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Full text of "The life of Samuel Johnson, LL. D. : comprehending an account of his studies and numerous works, in chronological order; a series of his epistolatory correspondence and conversations with many eminent persons; and various original pieces of his composition, never before published: the whole exhibiting a view of literature and literary men in Great-Britain, for near half a century during which he flourished"

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Quo  ft   ut   OMNIS 

Votinja  pateat  "vtluti  descripta  taliella 
Vita  senis Horat. 


VOL.  I. 





AST' ,H.  LEWOX   A!» 


L      ', 




EVERY  liberal  motive  that  can  actuate  an 
Authour  in  the  dedication  of  his  labours,  concurs  in 
directing  me  to  you,  as  the  person  to  whom  the  fol- 
lowing Work  should  be  inscribed. 

If  there  be  a  pleasure  in  celebrating  the  distinguish- 
ed merit  of  a  contemporary,  mixed  with  a  certain  de- 
gree of  vanity  not  altogether  inexcusable,  in  appear- 
ing fully  sensible  of  it,  where  can  I  find  one,  in  com- 
plimenting whom  I  can  with  more  general  approba- 
tion gratify  those  feelings  I  Your  excellence  not  only 
in  the  Art  over  which  you  have  long  presided  with 
unrivalled  fame,  but  also  in  Philosophy  and  elegant 
Literature,  is  well  known  to  the  present,  and  will  con- 
tinue to  be  the  admiration  of  future  ages.  Your 
equal  and  placid  temper,  your  variety  of  conversation, 
your  true  politeness,  by  which  you  are  so  amiable  in 
private  society,  and  that  enlarged  hospitality  which 
has  long  made  your  house  a  common  centre  of  union 
for  the  great,  the  accomplished,  the  learned,  and  the 
ingenious  ;  all  these  qualities  I  can,  in  perfect  confi- 
dence of  not  being  accused  of  flattery,  ascribe  to  you. 

If  a  man  may  indulge  an  honest  pride,  in  having  it 
known  to  the  world,  that  he  has  been  thought  wor- 
thy of  particular  attention  by  a  person  of  the  first  em- 
inence in  the  age  in  which  h^  lived,  whose  company 


has  been  universally  courted,  I  am  justified  in  avail- 
ing myself  of  the  usual  privilege  of  a  Dedication, 
when  I  mention  that  there  has  been  a  long  and  unin- 
terrupted friendship  between  us. 

If  gratitude  should  be  acknowledged  for  favours 
received,  I  have  this  opportunity,  my  dear  Sir,  most 
sincerely  to  thank  you  for  the  many  happy  hours 
which  I  owe  to  your  kindness, — for  the  cordiality  with 
which  you  have  at  all  times  been  pleased  to  welcome 
me, — for  the  number  of  valuable  acquaintances  to 
whom  you  have  introduced  me, — for  the  nodes  cocn- 
ceque  Deum,  which  I  have  enjoyed   under  your  roof. 

If  a  work  should  be  inscribed  to  one  who  is  master 
of  the  subject  of  it,  and  whose  approbation,  therefore, 
must  ensure  it  credit  and  success,  the  Life  of  Dr. 
Johnson  is,  with  the  greatest  propriety,  dedicated  to 
Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  who  was  the  intimate  and  belov- 
ed  friend  of  that  great  man  ;  the  friend,  whom  he  de- 
clared to  be  "  the  most  invulnerable  man  he  knew  ; 
whom,  if  he  should  quarrel  with  him,  he  should  find  the 
most  difficulty  how  to  abuse."  You,  my  dear  Sir, 
studied  him,  and  knew  him  well  :  you  venerated  and 
admired  him.  Yet,  luminous  as  he  was  upon  the  whole, 
you  perceived  all  the  shades  which  mingled  in  the 
grand  composition  ;  all  the  little  peculiarities  and  slight 
blemishes  which  marked  the  literary  Colossus.  Your 
very  warm  commendation  of  the  specimen  which  I 
gave  in  my  "  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,"  of 
my  being  able  to  preserve  his  conversation  in  an  au- 
thentick  and  lively  manner,  which  opinion  the  Pub- 
lick  has  confirmed,  was  the  best  encouragement  for  me 
lo  persevere  in  my  purpose  of  producing  the  whole  of 
my  stor*^ 


In  one  respect,  this  Work  will,  in  some  passages,  be 
different  from  the  former.  In  my  "  Tour,"  1  was  al- 
most unboundedly  open  in  my  communications,  and 
from  my  eagerness  to  display  the  wonderful  fertility 
and  readiness  of  Johnson's  wit,  freely  shewed  t<>  the 
world  its  dexterity,  even  when  I  was  myself  tin-  ob- 
ject of  it.  I  trusted  that  I  should  be  liberally  under- 
stood, as  knowing  very  well  what  I  was  about,  and  by 
no  means  as  simply  unconscious  of  the  pointed  ef- 
fects of  the  satire.  I  own,  indeed,  that  1  was  arrogant 
enough  to  suppose  that  the  tenour  of  the  rest  of  the  book 
would  sufficiently  guard  me  against  such  a  strange  im- 
putation. But  it  seems  I  judged  too  well  of  the  world  ; 
for,  though  1  could  scarcely  believe  it,  I  have  been 
undoubtedly  informed,  that  many  persons,  especiallv 
in  distant  quarters,  not  penetrating  enough  into  John- 
son's character,  so  as  to  understand  his  mode  of  treat- 
ing his  friends,  have  arraigned  my  judgement,  instead 
of  seeing  that  1  was  sensible  of  all  that  they  could  ob- 

It  is  related  of  the  great  Dr.  Clarke,  that  when  in 
one  of  his  leisure  hours  he  was  unbending  himself 
with  a  few  friends  in  the  most  playful  and  frolicksome 
manner,  he  observed  Beau  Nash  approaching;  upon 
which  he  suddenly  stopped  ; — "  My  boys,  (said  he,) 
let  us  be  grave  :  here  comes  a  fool."  The  world,  my 
friend,  1  have  found  to  be  a  great  fool,  as  to  that  par- 
ticular on  which  it  has  become  necessary  to  speak 
very  plainly.  1  have,  therefore,  in  this  Work  b 
more  reserved  ;  and  though  I  tell  nothing  but  the 
truth,  I  have  still  kept  in  my  mind  that  the  whole 
truth  is  not  always  to  be  exposed.  This,  however,  J 
have  managed  so  as  to  occasion  no  diminution  of  the 


pleasure  which  my  book  should  afford ;  though  malig- 
nity may  sometimes  be  disappointed  of  its  gratifica- 

I  am, 

My  dear  Sir} 

Your  much  obliged  friend, 

And  faithful  humble  servant, 


April  20,  179i. 


I  AT  last  deliver  to  the  world  a  Work  which  I 
have  long  promised,  and  of  which,  I  am  afraid,  too  high 
expectations  have  been  raised.      The  delay  of  its  publi- 
cation must  be  imputed,  in  a  considerable  degree,  to  the 
extraordinary  zeal  which  has  been  shewn  by  distinguished 
persons  in  all  quarters  to  suppltj  me  with  additional  in- 
formation concerning  its  illustrious  subject  ;  resembling 
in  this  the  grateful  tribes  of  ancient  nations,  of  which 
every  individual  was  eager  to  throzo  a  stone  upon   the 
grave  of  a  departed  Hero,  and  thus  to  share  in  the  pious 
office  of  erecting  an  honourable  monument  to  his  memory. 
The  labour  and  anxious  attention  with  which  I  have 
collected  and  arranged  the  materials  of  which  these 
volumes  are  composed,  will  hardly  be  conceived  by  those 
who  read  them  with  careless  facility.      The  stretch  of 
mind  and  prompt  assiduity  by  which  so  many  conversa- 
tions were  preserved,  I  myself,  at  some  distance  of  time, 
contemplate  with  wonder ;  and  I  must  be  allowed  to  sug- 
gest, that  the  nature  of  the  work,   in  other  respects, 
as  it  consists  of  innumerable  detached  particulars,  all 
which,  even  the  most  minute,  I  have  spared  no  pains  to 
ascertain  with  a  scrupulous  authenticity,  has  occasioned 
a  degree  of  trouble  far  beyond  that  of  am/  other  species 
of  composition.      Were  I  to  detail  the  boohs  which  I 
have  consulted,  and  the  inquiries  which  I  have  found  it 
necessary  to  make  bij  various  channels,  I  should  proba- 
bly be  thought  ridiculouslij  ostentatious.     let  me  onhj 
observe,  as  a  specimen  of  my  trouble,  that  I  have  some- 
times been  obliged  to  run  half  over  London,  in  order  to 
fix  a  date  correctlij  ;  which,  when  I  had  accomplished, 
I  well  knew  would  obtain  me  no  praise,  tin  ugh  a  failure 
would  have  been  to  my  discredit.     And  ifter  all.  per- 
haps, hard  as  it  may  be,  I  shall  not  be  surprised  if 


omissions  or  mistakes  be  pointed  out  zvith  invidious  se- 
verity. I  have  also  been  extremely  careful  as  to  the 
exactness  of  my  quotations ;  holding  that  there  is  a  re- 
spect due  to  the  publick,  which  should  oblige  every  Au- 
thour  to  attend  to  this,  and  never  to  presume  to  introduce 
them  zvith,— ^  I  think  I  have  read ;" — or—"  If  I  re- 
member right ;"  when  the  originals  may  be  examined. 

I  beg  leave  to  express  my  warmest  thanks  to  those 
who  have  been  pleased  to  favour  me  zvith  communications 
and  advice  in  the  conduct  of  my  Work.  But  I  cannot 
sufficiently  acknowledge  my  obligations  to  my  friend  Mr. 
Ma  lone,  who  was  so  good  as  to  allow  me  to  read  to  him 
almost  the  whole  of  my  manuscript,  and  make  such  re- 
marks as  were  greatly  for  the  advantage  of  the  Work  ; 
though  it  is  but  fair  to  him  to  mention,  that  upon  many 
occasions  I  differed  from  him,  and  followed  my  own 
judgement.  I  regret  exceedingly  that  I  was  deprived  of 
the  benefit  of  his  revision,  when  not  more  than  one  half 
of  the  book  had  passed  through  the  press;  but  after 
having  completed  his  very  laborious  and  admirable  edi- 
tion o/'Sh akspeare,  for  zvhich  he  generously  would  ac- 
cept of  no  other  reward  but  that  fame  which  lie  has  so 
deservedly  obtained,  he  fulfilled  his  promise  of  a  long- 
wished  for  visit  to  his  relations  in  Ireland  ;  from 
whence  his  safe  return  finibus  Atticis  is  desired  by  his 
friends  here,  with  all  the  classical  ardour  of 'Sic  te  Diva 
potens  Cypri ;  for  there  is  no  man  in  whom  more  elegant 
and  worthy  qualities  are  united  ;  and  whose  society^ 
therefore,  is  more  valued  by  those  who  know  him. 

It  is  painful  to  me  to  think,  that  while  I  was  carrying 
on  this  Work,  several  of  those  to  whom  it  would  have 
been  most  interesting  have  died.  Such  melancholy  dis- 
appointments we  know  to  be  incident  to  humanity ;  but 
we  do  not  feel  them  the  less.  Let  me  particularly  la- 
ment the  Reverend  Thomas  Warton,  and  the  Rever- 
end Dr.  Adams.  Mr.  Warton,  amidst  his  variety  of 
genius  and  learning,  was  an  excellent  Biographer.  His 
contributions  to  my  Collection  are  highly  estimable  ;  and 
as  he  had  a  true  relish  of  my  "  Tour  to  the  Hebrides," 
/  trust  I  should  now  have  been  gratified  zvith  a  larger 
share  of  his  kind  approbation.     Dr,  Adams,  eminent  u& 


the  Head  of  a  College,  as  a  writer,  ami  as  a  most  amia- 
ble man,  had  known  Johnson  from  his  early  years,  and 
was  his  friend  through  life.  What  reason  1  had  to  hope 
for  the  countenance  of  that  venerable  Gentleman  to  this 
Work,  will  appear  from  -what  he  wrote  to  me  upon  "for- 
mer occasion  from  Oxford,  November  17,  1785  : — 
"  Dear  Sir,  I  hazard  this  letter,  not  knowing  where  it 
will  find  you,  to  thank  you  for  your  very  agreeable 
6  Tour/  which  I  found  here  on  mv  return  from  the 
country,  and  in  which  you  have  depicted  our  friend 
so  perfectly  to  my  fancy,  in  every  attitude,  every  scene 
and  situation,  that  I  have  thought  myself  in  the  com- 
pany, and  of  the  party  almost  throughout.  It  has  giv- 
en very  general  satisfaction  ;  and  those  who  have  found 
most  fault  with  a  passage  here  and  there,  have  agreed 
that  they  could  not  help  going  through,  and  being  en- 
tertained with  the  whole.  I  wish,  indeed,  some  few 
gross  expressions  had  been  softened,  and  a  few  of  our 
hero's  foibles  had  been  a  little  more  shaded  ;  but  it  is 
useful  to  see  the  weaknesses  incident  to  great  minds  ; 
and  you  have  given  us  Dr.  Johnson's  authority  that  in 
history  all  ought  to  be  told." 

Such  a  sanction  to  my  faculty  of  giving  a  just  repre- 
sentation of  Dr.  Johnson,  I  could  not  conceal.  Nor 
will  I  suppress  my  satisfaction  in  the  consciousness,  that 
by  recording  so  considerable  a  portion  of  the  wisdom  and 
wit  of  "  the  brightest  ornament  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury,"* /  have  largely  provided  for  the  instruction  and 
entertainment  of  mankind. 

London,  April  20,  1791. 

*  See  Mr.  Malone's  Preface  to  his  edition  of  Shakspeir'- 

VOL.  I.  2 


THAT  I  zv  as  anxious  for  the  success  of  a  Work 
which  had  employed  much  oj' my  time  and  labour,  I  do 
not  wish  to  conceal  :  but  "whatever  doubts  I  at  any  time 
entertained,  have  been  entirely  removed  by  the  very  fa- 
vourable reception  with  which  it  has  been  honoured. 
That  reception  has  excited  mi)  best  exertions  to  render 
my  Book  more  pet  feet  ;  and  in  this  endeavour  I  have 
had  the  assistance  not  only  of  some  of  my  particular 
friends,  but  of  many  other  learned  and  ingenious  men,  by 
which  I  have  been  enabled  to  rectify  some  mistakes,  and 
to  enrich  the  Work  with  many  valuable  additions. 

In  the  strangely  mixed  scenes  of  human  existence, 
our  feelings  are  often  at  once  pleasing  and  painful.  Of 
this  truth,  the  progress  of  the  present  Work  furnishes 
a  striking  instance.  It  was  highly  gratifying  to  me 
that  my  friend,  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  to  whom  it  is 
inscribed,  lived  to  peruse  it,  and  to  give  the  strongest 
testimony  to  its  fidelity  ;  but  before  a  second  edition^ 
which  he  contributed  to  improve,  could  be  finished,  the 
world  has  been  deprived  of  that  most  valuable  man  ;  a 
loss  of  which  the  regret  will  be  deep,  and  lasting,  and 
extensive,  proportionate  to  the  felicity  which  he  diffused 
through  a  wide  circle  of  admirers  and  friends. 

In  refecting  that  the  illustrious  subject  of  this  Work, 
by  being  more  extensively  and  intimately  kno~wn,  howev- 
er elevated  before,  has  risen  in  the  veneration  and  love 
of  mankind,  I  feel  a  satisfaction  beyond  what  fame  can 
afford.  We  cannot,  indeed,  too  much  or  too  often  ad- 
mire his  wonderful  powers  of  mind,  when  we  consider 
that  the  principal  store  of  wit  and  wisdom  "which  this 
Work  contains,  was  not  a  particular  selection  from  his 
general  conversation,  but  was  merely  his  occasional  talk 
at  such  times  as  I  had  the  good  fortune  to  be  in  his  com- 


pant/  ;  and,  without  doubt,  if  his  discourse  at  other 
periods  had  been  collected  with  the  same  attention,  the 
zvhole  tenor  of  what  he  uttered  would  have  been  found 
equalli)  excellent. 

His  strong,  clear,  and  ant  mated  enforcement  of  r  elf 
gion,  morality,  lotjaltij,  and  subordination,  while  it  de- 
lights and  improves  the  and  the  good,  will,  I  trust, 
prove  an  effectual  antidote  to  that  detestable  sophistry 
which  has  been  latelij  imported  from  France,  under  -the 
false  name  of  Philosophy,  and  with  a  malignant  indus- 
try has  been  employed  against  the  peace,  good  order, 
and  happiness  of  society,  in  our  free  and  prosperous 
countrtf  ;  but,  thanks  be  to  God,  without  producing  the 
pernicious  effects  which  were  hoped  for  bif  its  propa- 

It  seems  to  me,  in  mij  moments  of  self  complacency, 
that  this  extensive  biographical  work,  however  inferior 
in  its  nature,  mat)  in  one  respect  be  assimilated  to  the 
Odyssey.  Amidst  a  thousand  entertaining  and  in- 
structive episodes  the  Hero  is  never  long  out  of  sight ; 
for  theif  are  all  in  some  degree  connected  with  him  ; 
and  He,  in  the  whole  course  of  the  History,  is  exhib- 
ited by  the  Authour  for  the  best  advantage  of  his 
readers  : 

— Quid  virtus  et  quid  sapientia  possit, 
Utile  proposuit  nobis  exemplar  Glyssen. 

Should  there  be  any  cold-blooded  and  morose  mortals 
who  really  dislike  this  Book,  I  will  give  them  a  story 
io  apply.  When  the  great  Duke  of  Marlborough, 
accompanied  by  Lord  Cadogan,  was  one  datj  recon- 
noitering  the  army  in  Flanders,  a  heavy  ram  came  on, 
and  they  both  called  for  their  cloaks.  Lord  Cado- 
gan's  servant,  a  good  humoured  alert  lad,  brought  his 
Lordship's  in  a  minute.  The  Duke's  servant,  a  lazy 
sulky  dog,  was  so  sluggish,  that  his  Grace  being  wet  to 
the  skin,  reproved  him,  and  had  for  answer  with  a 
grunt,  "  1  came  as  fast  as  I  could  ;"  upon  which  the 
Duke  calmly  said, — "  Cadogan,  /  would  not  for  n 
thousand  pounds  have  that  fellow 's  temper" 


There  are  some  men,  I  believe,  who  have,  or  think 
they  have,  a  very  small  share  of  vanity.  Such  may 
speak  of  their  literary  fame  in  a  decorous  style  of  diffi- 
dence. But  I  confess,  that  I  am  so  formed  by  nature 
and  by  habit,  that  to  restrain  the  effusion  of  delight,  on 
having  obtained  such  fame,  to  me  would  be  truly  painful. 
Why  then  should  I  suppress  it  !  Why  "  out  of  the 
abundance  of  the  heart"  should  I  not  speak!  Let  me 
then  mention  with  a  warm,  but  no  insolent  exultation, 
that  I  have  been  regaled  with  spontaneous  praise  of  my 
work  by  many  and  various  persons  eminent  for  their 
rank,  learning,  talents,  and  accomplishments  ;  much  of 
which  praise  I  have  under  their  hands  to  be  reposited  in 
my  archives  at  Auchinleck.  An  honourable  and  rever- 
end friend  speaking  of  the  favourable  reception  of  mi/ 
volumes,  even  in  the  circles  of  fashion  and  elegance,  said 
to  me,  "  you  have  made  them  all  talk  Johnson." — Yes, 
I  may  add,  I  have  Johnson ised  the  land  ;  and  I  trust 
they  will  not  only  talk,  but  think  Johnson. 

To  enumerate  those  to  whom  I  have  been  thus  indebt- 
ed, would  be  tediously  ostentatious.  I  cannot  however 
but  name  one,  whose  praise  is  truly  valuable,  not  only  on 
account  ef  his  knowledge  and  abilities,  but  on  account  of 
the  magnificent,  yet  dangerous  embassy,  in  which  he  is 
now  employed,  which  makes  every  thing  that  relates  to 
him  peculiarly  interesting.  Lord  Macartney  fa- 
voured me  with  his  own  copy  of  my  book,  with  a  num- 
ber of  notes,  of  which  I  have  availed  myself .  On  the 
first  leaf  I  found  in  his  Lordship's  hand-writing,  an  in- 
scription of  such  high  commendation,  thai  even  I.  vain 
as  I  am,  cannot  prevail  on  myself  to  publish  it, 

I  July  1,  1793.] 


SEVERAL  valuable  letters,  and  other  curious 
matter,  having  been  communicated  to  the  Author  too  late 
to  be  arranged  in  that  chronological  order  which  he  had 
endeavoured  uniformly  to  observe  in  his  work,  he  was 
obliged  to  introduce  them  in  his  Second  Edition,  bu  way 
of  Addenda,  as  commodious ly  as  he  could.     In  the 
present  edition  theij  have  been  distributed  in  their  proper 
places.     In  revising  his  volumes  for  a  new  edition,   he 
had  pointed  out  where  some  of  these  materials  should  be 
inserted  ;  but  unfortunately,  in  the  midst  of  his  labours, 
he  was  seized  with  a  fever,  of  which,  to  the  great  regret 
of  all  his  friends,  he  died  on  the  10th  of  Ma//,  179o. 
All  the  Notes  that  he  had  written  in  the  margin  of  the 
copy  which  he  had  in  part  revised,  are  here  faithfully 
preserved ;  and  a  few  new  Notes  have  been  added,  prin- 
cipally bif  some  of  those  friends  to  whom  the  Author  in 
the  former  editions  acknowledged  his  obligations.     Those 
subscribed  with  the  letter  B,  'were  communicated  by  Dr. 
Burney  ;  those  to  which  the  letters  J.  B.  are  annexed, 
by  the  Rev.  J.  B.  Blakeway,  of  Shrewsbury,  to  whom 
Mr.  Boswell  acknowledged  himself  indebted  fur  some 
judicious  remarks  on  the  first  edition  of  his  work  :  and 
the  letters    J.    B — .O.    are  annexed  to   some    remarks 
furnished  by  the  Author' s  second  son,  a  Student  of  Bra- 
zen-Nose College  in  Oxford.     Some  valuable  observa- 
tions were  communicated  by    James   Bindley,    Esq. 
First  Commissioner  in  the  Stamp-Office,  which  have  been 
acknowledged   in  their  proper  places.     For  all  those 
without  any  signature,  Mr.  Ma  lone  is  answerable. 
I  have  only  to  add,  that  the  proof-sheets  of  the  pres- 
K  ent  edition  not  having  passeq\  through  my  hands,  lam 
not  answerable  for  any  typographical  errors  that  may 


be  found  in  it.  Having,  however,  been  printed  at  the 
very  accurate  press  of  Mr.  Baldwin,  /  make  no  doubt  it 
will  be  found  not  less  perfect  than  the  former  edition  ; 
the  greatest  care  having  been  taken,  by  correctness  and 
elegance  to  do  justice  to  one  of  the  most  instructive  and 
entertaining  works  in  the  English  language. 


April  8, 1799. 


IN  this  edition  are  inserted  some  new  letters,  of 
which  the  greater  part  has  been  obligingly  communicated 
by  the  Reverend  Dr.  Vyse,  Rector  of  Lambeth.  Those 
"written  bij  Dr.  Johnson  concerning  his  mother  in  her 
last  illness,  furnish  a  new  proof  of  his  great  piety  and 
tenderness  of  heart,  and  therefore  cannot  but  be  accepta- 
ble to  the  readers  of  this  very  popular  work.  Some  ne:c 
no>es  also  have  been  added,  -which,  as  well  as  the  obser- 
vations inserted  in  the  third  edition,  and  the  letters  now 
introduced,  are  carefully  included  within  crotchets,  that 
the  author  may  not  be  answerable  for  any  thing  which 
had  not  the  sanction  of  his  approbation.  The  remarks 
of  his  friends  are  distinguished  as  formerly,  except  those 
of  Mr.  M  alone,  to  which  the  letter  M  is  now  subjoined. 
Those  to  -which  the  letter  K  is  affixed,  were  communi- 
cated by  my  learned  friend,  the  Reverend  Doctor  Kear- 
ney, formerly  Senior  Fellow  of  Trinity  College,  Dub- 
lin, and  now  beneficed  in  the  diocese  of  Rap  hoe  in  Ire- 
land of  which  he  is  Archdeacon. 

Of  a  work  which  has  been  before  the  publick  for 
thirteen  years  with  increasing  approbation,  and  of  which 
near  four  thousand  copies  have  been  dispersed,  it  is  not 
necessary  to  sau  more ;  yet  I  cannot  refrain  from  adding. 
that,  highly  as  it  is  now  estimated,  it  will,  1  am  confident, 
be  still  more  valued  by  posterity  a  century  hence,  when 
all  the  actors  in  the  scene  shall  be  numbered  with  the 
dead ;  when  the  excellent  and  extraordinary  man  whose 
wit  and  wisdom  are  here  recorded,  shall  be  viewed  at  a 
still  greater  distance  ;  and  the  instruction  and  enter- 
tainment they  afford,  will  at  once  produce  reverential 
gratitude,  admiration,  and  delight. 

E.  M. 

Tune  20,  1804. 


IN  this  ffth  edition  some  errors  of  the  press, 
which  had  crept  into  the  text  and  notes,  in  consequence 
of  repeated  impressions,  have  been  corrected.  Two  let- 
ters  written  by  Dr.  Johnson,  and  several  new  notes , 
have  been  added  ;  bij  which,  it  is  hoped,  this  valuable 
work  is  still  further  improved. 


January  1,  1807. 



[N.  B.     To  those  which  he  himself  acknowledged  is  added  acknoivl.     To  thosr 
which  may  be  fully  believed  to  be  his  from  internal  evidence,  is  added  intern,  evid."] 

1735.    ABRIDGEMENT  and  translation  of  Lobo's  Voyage  to  Abyssinia,  acknoivl. 

1 738.  Part   of  a  translation   of  Father  Paul  Sarpi's  History   of  the   Council  of 

Trent,  acknoivl. 
[N.  B.  As  this  work,  after  some  sheets  were  printed,  suddenly  stopped,  I  knov. 
not  whether  any  part  of  it  is  now  to  be  found.] 

For  the  Gentleman  s  Magazine. 
Preface,  intern,  evid. 
Life  of  Father  Paul,  acknoivl. 

1739.  A  complete  vindication  of  the   Licenser  of  the  Stage   from   the  malicious 

and  scandalous  aspersions  of  Mr.  Brooke,  author  of  Gustavus  Vasa. 
Martnor  Norfolciense  :  or,  an  Essay  on  an  ancient  prophetical   inscription 
in   monkish  rhyme,   lately  discovered  near  Lynne   in   Norfolk  :    by 
Probus  Britanniclts.  ackno-wl. 

For  the  Gentleman's  Magazine. 
Life  of  Boerhaave.  acknoivl. 
Address  to  the  Reader,  intern,  evid. 

Appeal  to  the  Publick  in  behalf  of  the  Editor,  intern,  evid. 
Considerations   on  the  case  of  Dr.  Trapp's  Sermons  ;  a   plausible  attempt 

to  prove  that  an  authour's  work  may  be  abridged  without  injuring  hi^ 

property,  acknoivl. 

i  740.  For  the  Gentleman  s  Magazine. 

Preface,  intern,  evid. 
Life  of  Admiral  Drake,  acknoivl. 
Life  of  Admiral  Blake,  acknoivl. 
Life  of  Philip  Barretier.  acknoivl. 
Essay  on  Epitaphs,  acknoivl. 

1741.  For  the  Gentleman's  Magazine. 

Preface,  intern,  evid. 

A  free  translation  of  the  Jests  of  Hierocles,  with  an  introduction,  intern. 

Debate  on  the  Humble  Petition  and  Advice  of  the  Rump  Parliament  to 
Cromwell  in  1657,  to  assume  the  title  of  King  ;  abridged,  method- 
ized and  digested,  intern,  evid. 

Translation  of  Abbe  Guyon's  Dissertation  on  the  Amazons,  intern,  evid. 

Translation  of  Fontenelle's  Panegyrick  on  Dr.  Morin.  intern,  evid. 

*  I  do  not  here  include  his  Poetical  Works  ;  for,  excepting  his  Latin  Translation  of  Pope's  Messiah,  liii  Lon- 
don, and  his  Vanity  of  Hum^n  Wishes  imitated  from  Juvenal  ;  his  Prologue  on  the  opening  of  Drury  Lane 
by  Mr.  Garrick,  and  his  Irene,  a  Tragedy,  they  are  very  numerous,  and  in  general  short  ;  and  I  have  promised  a 
complete  edition  of  them,  in  which  I  fhsli  vrith  the  utrnt/sl  care  ascertain  their  autbcnlicitya  aud  illustrate  IhLin 
Kith  notes  and  various  tendings. 

VOL.  I.  3 


1742.  For  the  Gentleman's  Magazine. 
Preface,  intern,  evid. 

Essay  on  the  Account  of  the  Conduct  of  the  Dutche6s  of  Marlborough. 


An  account  of  the  Life  of  Peter  Burman.  acknoivl. 

The  Life  of  Sydenham,  afterwards  prefixed  to  Dr.  Swan's  Edition  of  hie 
Works,  acknoivl. 

Proposals  for  printing  Bibliotheca  Harleiana,  or  a  Catalogue  of  the  Li- 
brary of  the  Earl  of  Oxford,  afterwards  prefixed  to  the  first  Volume 
of  that  Catalogue,  in  which  the  Latin  Accounts  of  the  Books  were 
written  by  him.  acknoivl. 

Abridgement,  entitled,  Foreign  History,  intern,  evid. 

Essay  on  the  description  of  China,  from  the  French  of  Du  Halde.  intern. 

1 743.  Dedication  to  Dr.  Mead  of  Dr.  James's  Medicinal  Dictionary,  intern,  evid. 

For  the  Gentleman's  Magazine. 

Preface,  intern,  evid. 

Parliamentary  Debates  under  the  name  of  Debates  in  the  Senate  of  Lilli- 

put,  from  Nov.  19,  1740,  to  Feb.  23,  1742-3,  inclusive,  acknoivl. 

Considerations  on  the  Dispute  between  Crousaz  and  Warburton  on  Pope's 

Essav  on  Man.  intern,  evid. 

A  Letter  announcing  that  the  Life  of  Mr.  Savage  was  speedily  to  be  pub- 
lished by  a  person  who  was  favoured  with  his  Confidence,  intern,  evid. 
Advertisement  for  Osborne  concerning  the  Harleian  Catalogue,  intern,  evid. 

1744.  Life  of  Richard  Savage,  acknoivl. 

Preface  to  the  Harleian  Miscellany,  acknoivl. 

For  the  Gentleman  s  Magazine. 
Preface,  intern,  evid. 

1745.  Miscellaneous  Observations  on  the  Tragedy  of  Macbeth,  with  remarks  on 

Sir  T.  H.'s  (Sir  Thomas  Hanmer's)  Edition  of  Shakspeare,  and  propo- 
sals for  a  new  Edition  of  that  Poet,  acknoivl. 

1747.  Plan  for  a  Dictionary  of  the  English   Language,  addressed  to   Philip 

Dormer,  Earl  of  Chesterfield,  acknoivl. 

F.r  the  Gentleman's  Magazine. 

1748.  Life  of  Roscommon,  acknoivl. 
Foreign  History,  November,  intern,  evid. 

For  Mr.  Dodsley's  PRECEPTOR.  t 

Preface,  acknoivl. 

Vision  of  Theodore  the  Hermit,  acknoivl. 

1750.  The  Rambler,  the  first  Paper  of  which  was  published  20th  of  March  this 

year,  and  the  last  17th  of  March,  1752,  the  day  on  which  Mrs. 
Johnson  died.  *acknoivL 

Letter  in  the  General  Advertiser  to  excite  the  attention  of  the  Publick  to 
the  Performance  of  Comus,  which  was  next  day  to  be  acted  at  Drury- 
Lane   Playhouse  for  the  Benefit  of  Milton's  Granddaughter,  acknoivl. 

Preface  and  Postscript  to  Lauder's  Pamphlet,  entitled, '  An  Essay  on  Mil- 
ton's Use  and  Imitation  of  the  Moderns  in  his  Paradise  Lost.'  acknoivl. 

1751.  Life  of  Chevnel,  in  the  Miscellany  called  "  The  Student."  acknoivl. 
Letter  for  Lauder,  addressed  to  the  Reverend  Dr.  John  Douglas,  acknowl- 
edging his  Fraud  concerning  Milton  in  terms  of  suitable  Contrition. 

Dedication  to  the  Earl  of  Middlesex,  of  Mrs.  Charlotte  Lenox's  "  Female 
Quixotte."  intern,  evid. 
j  753.   Dedication  to  John  Earl  of  Orrery,  of  Shakspeare  Illustrated,  by  Mrs, 
Charlotte  Lenox,  acknoivl. 

*  [This  is  s.  mistake.     The  last  comber  cf  the  Rambler  appeared  on  the  fourteenth  of  March,  three  da'-; 
■•  re  Mr:    Johnson  died.    M.3 

of  dr.  Johnson's  prose  works. 

During  this  and  the  following  year  he  wrote  and  gave  to  his  much  loved 
friend  Dr.  Bathurst  the   Papers  in  the  Adventurer,  signed  T.  acinotvL 
•1754.   Life  of  Edw.  Cave  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  acknoivl. 

1755.  A  Dictionary,  with  a   Grammar  and   History,  of  the   English  Lan- 

guage- acknoivl. 
An  account  of  an  Attempt  to  ascertain  the  Longitude  at  Sea,  by  an  exact 
Theory  of  the  Variations  of  the  Magnetical  Needle-,  with  a  Table  of 
the  Variations  at  the  most  remarkable  Cities  in  Europe  from  the  year 
1660  to  1860.  ackno-wl.  This  he  wrote  for  Mr.  Zachariah  Williams, 
an  ingenious  ancient  Welsh  Gentleman,  father  of  Mr,.  Anna  Will- 
iams whom  he  for  many  years  kindly  lodged  in  his  House.  It  wa, 
published  with  a  Translation  into  Italian  by  Signor  Baretti.  In  a 
Copy  of  it  which  he  presented  to  the  Bodleian  Library  at  Oxford, 
is  pasted  a  character  of  the  late  Mr.  Zachariah  Williams,  plainly 
written  by  Johnson,  intern,  evid, 

1756.  An  Abridgement  of  his  Dictionary,  aclncwl. 

Several  Essays  in  the  Universal  Visiter,  which  there  is  some  difficulty  in 
ascertaining.  All  that  are  marked  with  two  Asterisks  have  been  as- 
cribed to  him,  although  I  am  confident  from  internal  Evidence,  that 
we  should  except  from  these  "  The  Life  of  Chaucer,"  "  Reflections 
on  the  State  of  Portugal,"  and  "  An  Essay  on  Architecture  :"  And 
from  the  same  Evidence  I  am  confident  that  he  wrote  "  Further 
Thoughts  on  Agriculture,"  and  "  A  Dissertation  on  the  State  of  Lit- 
erature and  Authours."  The  Dissertation  on  the  Epitaphs  written 
by  Pope  he  afterwards  acknowledged,  and  added  to  his  "  Idler." 

Life  of  Sir  Thomas  Browne  prefixed  to  a  new  Edition  of  his  Christian 
Morals,  acknoivl. 

In  the  Literary    Magazine  ;   or,  Universal  Review,  which  began  in  January    1756 

His  Original  Essays  are, 

The  Preliminary  Address,  intern,  evid. 

An  introduction  to  the  Political  State  of  Great  Britain,  intern,  evid. 

Remarks  on  the  Militia  Bill,  intern,  evid. 

Observations  on  his   Britannick   Majesty's  Treaties  with  the   Fmpress  of 

Russia  and  the  Landgrave  of  Hesse  Cassel.  intern,  evid. 
Observations  on  the  Present  State  of  Affairs,  intern,  evid. 
Memoirs  of  Frederick  III.  King  of  Prussia,  intern,  evid. 

In  the  same  Magazine  his  Reviews  are  of  the  following  Book 

"  Birch's  History  of  the  Royal  Society." — "  Browne's  Christian  Morals.' 
— f  Wharton's  Essay  on  the  Writings  and  Genius  of  Pope,  Vol.  I." — 
"  Hampton's   Translation   of  Polybius." — "  Sir   Isaac  Newton's   Ar- 
guments  in  proof  of  a  Deity." — "  Borlase's   History  of  the    Isles  of 
Scilly." — "  Home's  Experiments  on  Bleaching." — "  Browne's  Histo- 
ry of  Jamaica." — "  Hales   on  Distilling  Sea   Waters,  Ventilators  in 
Ships,  and  curing  an  ill  Taste  in  Milk." — "  Lucas's  Essay  on  Water,.' 
"  Keith's  Catalogue  of  the  Scottish  Bishops." — "  Philosophical  Tran-- 
actions,    Vol.   XLIX." — "    Miscellanies    by   Elizabeth    Harrison."— 
"  Evans's   Map  and  account  of  the  Middle   Colonies  in  America." — 
"  The  Cadet,  a  Military  Treatise."—"  The  Conduct  of  the  Ministry 
relating  to  the  present  War  impartially  examined."  intern,  evid. 

Mrs.  Lenox's  Translation  of  Sully's  Memoirs." — "  Letter  on  the  Case  of 
Admiral  Byng." — "  Appeal  to  the  People  concerning  Admiral  Byng.' 
"  Hanway's   Eight  Days'  Journey,  and  Essay  on  Tea." — "  Some  fur- 
ther Particulars   in   Relation  to' the   Case  of  Admiral   Byng,  I 
gentleman  of  Oxford."  acknoivl. 

Mr.  Jonas  Hanway  having  written  an  angry  Answer  to  the  Review  of  hi 
Essav  on  Tea,  Johmon  in  the  same  Collection  made  a  reply  to  it 


acinoivl.  This  is  the  only  Instance,  it  is  believed,  when  he  conde- 
scended to  take  Notice  of  any  Thing  that  had  been  written  against 
him  ;  and  here  his  chief  Intention  seems  to  have  been  to  make  sport. 

Dedication  to  the  Earl  of  Rochford  of,  and  Preface  to,  Mr.  Payne's  Intro- 
duction to  the  Game  of  Draughts,  acinoivl. 

Introduction  to  the  London  Chronicle,  an  Evening  Paper  which  still  sub- 
sists with  deserved  credit,  acknoivl. 

1757.  Speech  on  the  Subject  of  an  address  to  the  Throne  after  the  Expedition  to 

Rochefort  :  delivered  by  one  of  his  Friends  in  some  publick  Meeting: 
it  is  printed   in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  for  October  1785.  intern. 
The  first   two  Paragraphs  of  the  Preface  to  Sir   William  Chambers's  De- 
signs of  Chinese  Buildings,  &c.  acinoivl. 

1758.  The   Idler,  which   began  April  5,  in  this  year,  and  was  continued  till 

April  5,  1  760.  acknoivl. 
An  Essay  on  the   Bravery  of  the  English  Common  Soldiers  was  added  to 
it,  when  published  in  Volumes.  acknoivL 

1759.  Rasselas  Prince  of  Abyssinia,  a  Tale,  acknoivl. 

Advertisement  for  the  Proprietors  of  the  Idler  against  certain  Persons  who 
pirated  those  Papers  as  they  came  out  singly  in  a  Newspaper  called 
the  Universal  Chronicle  or  Weekly  Gazette,  intern,  evid. 

1  or  Mrs.  Charlotte  Lenox's  English  Version  of  Brumoy, — f  A  Disserta- 
tion on  the  Greek  Comedy,"  and  the  General  Conclusion  of  the  Book. 
intern,  evid. 

Introduction  to  the  World  Displayed,  a  Collection  of  Voyages  and  Trav- 
els, acknoivl. 

Three  Letters  in  the  Gazetteer,  concerning  the  best  plan  for  Blackfriars 
Bridge,  acknoivl. 
\  760.    Address  of  the  Painters  to  George   III.  on  his  Accession  to  the  Throne. 
intern,  evid. 

Dedication  of  Baretti's  Italian  and  English  Dictionary  to  the  Marquis  of 
Abreu,  then  Envoy-Extraordinary  from  Spain  at  the  Court  of  Great- 
Britain,  intern,  evid. 

Review  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  of  M.  Tytler's  acute  and  able  Vin- 
dication of  Mary  Queen  of  Scots,    acknoivl. 

Introduction  to  the  Proceedings  of  the  Committee  for  Cloathing  the  French 
Prisoners,  acinoial. 

1761.  Preface  to  Rolt's  Dictionary  of  Trade  and  Commerce,  acknoivl. 
Corrections  and  Improvements  for   Mr.  Gwyn  the  Architect's  Pamphlet, 

entitled  "  Thoughts  on  the  Coronation  of  George  III."  acinoivl. 

1762.  Dedication  to  the  King,  of  the   Rev.  Dr.   Kennedy's  Complete  System  of 

Astronomical  Chronology,  unfolding  the  Scriptures,  Quarto  Edition. 

Preface  to  the  Catalogue  of  the  Artist's  Exhibition,  intern,  evid. 
1-7C3.    Character  of  Collins  in  the   Poetical  Calendar,  published  by   Fawkes  and 

Woty.  acknoivl. 
Dedication  to  the  Earl  of  Shaftesbury  of  the  edition  of  Roger  AschamV 

English  Works,  published  by  the  Reverend  Mr.  Bennet,  acknoivl. 
The  Life  of  Ascham,  also  prefixed  to  that  edition,  acknoivl. 
Review  of  Telemachus,  a  Masque,  by  the  Rev.  George  Graham,  of  Eton 

College,  in  the  Critical  Review,  acknoivl. 
Dedication  to  the  Queen  of  Mr.  Hoole's  Translation  of  Tasso.  acinoivl. 
Account  of  the  Detection  of  the  Imposture  of  the  Cock-Lane  Ghost,  pub- 
lished in  the  Newspapers  and  Gentleman's  Magazine,  acknoivl. 
1  764.    Part  of  a  Review  of  Grainger's  "  Sugar  Cane,  a  Poem,"  in  the  London 

Chronicle,  acknoivl. 
Review  of  Goldsmith's  Traveller,  a  Poem,  in  the  Critical  Review,  acknoivl. 
1765.   The  Plays  of  William  Shakspeare,   in  eight  volumes,  8vo.  with  Note- 


of  dr.  Johnson's  prose  works.  21 

1766.  The  Fountains,  a  Fairy  Talc,  in  Mrs.  Williams's  Miscellanies.  acknoivl. 

1767.  Dedication  to  the  King  of  Mr.  Adams's  Treatise  on  the  Globes,  acknoivl. 

1769.  Character  of  the  Reverend  Mr.  Zachariah  Mudge,  in  the  London  Chron- 

icle, acknoivl. 

1770.  The  False  Alarm,  acknoivl. 

1771.  Thoughts  on  the  late  Transactions  respecting  Falkland's  Islands,  acknoivl. 

1772.  Defence  of  a  Schoolmaster ;  dictated  to  me  for  the  House  of  Lords,  acknoivl. 
Argument  in  Support  of  the  Law  of  Vicious  Intromission  ;  dictated   to  me 

for  the  Court  of  Session  in  Scotland,  acknoivl. 
HIS.    Preface  to  Macbean's  "  Dictionary  of  Ancient  Geography."  ackno-wl. 

Argument  in  Favour  of  the  Rights  of  Lay  Patrons  ;  dictated  to  me  for 
the  General  Assembly  of  the  Church  of  Scotland,  acknoivl. 

1774.  The  Patriot,  acknoivl. 

1775.  A  Journey  to  the  Western  Islands  of  Scotland,  acknoivl. 

Proposals  for  publishing  the  Works  of  Mrs.  Charlotte  Lenox,  in  Three 
Volumes  Quarto,  acknoivl. 

Preface  to  Baretti's  Easy  Lessons  in  Italian  and  English,  intern,  mid. 

Taxation  no  Tyranny  ;  an  Answer  to  the  Resolutions  and  Address  of  the 
American  Congress,  acknoivl. 

Argument  on  the  Case  of  Dr.  Memis  ;  dictated  to  me  for  the  Court  of 
Sessions  in  Scotland,  acknoivl. 

Argument  to  prove  that  the  corporation  of  Stirling  was  corrupt  ;  dicta- 
ted to  me  for  the  House  of  Lords,  acknoivl. 

1776.  Argument  in  Support   of  the  Right  of  immediate,  and  personal  reprehen- 

sion from  the  pulpit  ;  dictated  to  me.  acknoivl. 
Proposals  for  publishing  an  Analysis  of  the  Scotch  Celtick  Language,  by 

the  Reverend  William  Shaw,  acknoivl. 
Mil.    Dedication  to  the  King  of  the  Posthumous  Works   of  Dr.  Pearce,  Bishop 

of  Rochester,  acknoivl. 
Additions  to  the   Life  and  Character   of  that  Prelate  ;   prefixed  to  those 

Works,  acknoivl. 
Various  Papers  and  Letters  in  Favour  of  the  Reverend  Dr.  Dodd.  ackno-w!. 

1 780.  Advertisement  for  his   Friend  Mr.  Thrale   to  the  Worthy  Electors  of  the 

Borough  of  Southwark.  acknoivl. 
The  first  Paragraph  of  Mr.  Thomas  Davies's  Life  of  Garrick.  acknoivl. 

1781.  Prefaces,  Biographical  and   Critical,  to  the  works  of  the  most   eminent 

English  Poets  ;   afterwards  published  with  the  Title  of  the  Lives  of 

the  English  Poets,  acknoivl. 
Argument  on  the  Importance  of  the  Registration  of  Deeds  ;  dictated  to 

me  for  an  Election  Committee  of  the  House  of  Commons,  acknoivl. 
On  the  Distinction  between  Tory  and  Whig  ;  dictated  to  me.  acknoivl. 
On  Vicarious   Punishments,  and  the  great  Propitiation  for  the  Sins  of  the 

World,  by  Jesus  Christ  ;  dictated  to  me.  acknoivl. 
Argument   in  favour  of  Joseph  Knight,  an  African  Negro,  who  claimed 

his  Liberty  in   the  Court  of  Session  in   Scotland,  and   obtained  it  ; 

dictated  to  me.  acknoivl. 
Defence   of  Mr.  Robertson,   Printer  of  the  Caledonian  Mercury,  against 

the  Society   of  Procurators  in  Edinburgh,  for  having  inserted  in  his 

Paper  a  ludicrous   Paragraph   against  them  ;  demonstrating  that   it 

was  not  an  injurious  Libel ;  dictated  to  me.  acknoivl. 

1782.  The  greatest   part,  if  not  the  whole,  of  a  Reply,  by  the   Reverend    Mr. 

Shaw,  to  a  Person  at  Edinburgh,  of  the  Name  of  Clarke,  refuting  his 
arguments   for  the   authenticity    of  the   Poems    published    by    M 
James  Macpherson  as  Translations  from  Ossian.  intern,  evid. 
1784.    List  of  the  Authours  of  the  Universal    History,  deposited  in   the  Briti  ! 
Museum,  and  printed  in  the  Gentleman's   Magazine  for  IVccmli  - 
this  vpat.  achmivl. 


Various  Tears. 

Letters  to  Mrs.  Thrale.  adnoivl. 

Prayers  and  Meditations,  which  he  delivered  to  the  Rev.  Mr.  Strahan, 
enjoining  him  to  publish  them,  ackno-wl. 

Sermons,  left  for  Publication  by  John  Taylor,  LL  J).  Prebendary  of  West- 
minster, and  given  to  the  World  by  the  Rev.  Samuel  Hayes,  A.  M, 
intern,  evid* 

Such  was  the  number  and  variety  of  the  Prose  Works  of  this  extraordinary 
man,  which  I  have  been  able  to  discover,  and  am  at  liberty  to  mention  ;  but  we 
ought  to  keep  in  mind,  that  there  must  undoubtedly  have  been  many  more  which 
are  yet  concealed  ;  and  we  may  add  to  the  account,  the  numerous  Letters  which 
he  wrote,  of  which  a  considerable  part  are  yet  unpublished.  It  is  hoped  that 
those  persons  in  whose  possession  they  araj  will  favour  the  world  with  them. 


*  [To  this  List  of  the  Writings  of  Dr.  Johnson,  Mr.  Alexander  Chalmers,  with 
considerable  probability,  suggests  to  me  that  we  may  add  the  following  : 

In  the  Gentleman's  Magazine. 
1747.    Lauder's   Proposals  for  printing  the  Adamus  Exul  of  Grotius.     Vol.  20. 

p.  404. 
1750.   Address  to  the  Publick,  concerning  Miss  Williams's  Miscellanies.    Vol.  20. 

p.  428. 
1753.    Preface. 

Notice  of  Mr.  Edward  Cave's  death,  inserted  in  the  last  page  of  the  Index. 

In  the  Literary  Magazine. 
1756.    "  Observations  on  the  foregoing  letter  ;"  i.  e.  A  letter  on  the  American 
Colonies.     Vol.  1.  p.  66.    M.] 

•*  After  my  death  I  wish  no  other  herald, 
"  No  other  speaker  of  my  living  actions, 
"  To  keep  mine  honour  from  corruption, 
"  But  such  an  honest  chronicler  as  Griffith."* 

Shakspeare,  Henry  VIII. 

See  Dr.  Johnson's  letter  to  Mrs.  Thrale,  dated  Ostick  in  Skie,  September  30, 
1773  :  "  Boswell  writes  a  regular  Journal  of  our  travels,  which  I  think  contains 
as  much  of  what  I  say  and  do,  as  of  all  other  occurrences  together  ;  "  for  such  <r 
faithful  chronicler  is  Griffith." 





TO  write  the  Life  of  him  who  excelled  all 
mankind  in  writing  the  lives  of  others,  and  who,  whe- 
ther we  consider  his  extraordinary  endowments,  or  his 
various  works,  has  been  equalled  by  few  in  any  age, 
is  an  arduous,  and  may  be  reckoned  in  me  a  presump- 
tuous task. 

Had  Dr.  Johnson  written  his  own  Life,  in  conformity 
with  the  opinion  which  he  has  given,1  that  every  man's 
life  may  be  best  written  by  himself;  had  he  employed 
in  the  preservation  of  his  own  history,  that  clearness 
of  narration  and  elegance  of  language  in  which  he  has 
embalmed  so  many  eminent  persons,  the  world  would 
probably  have  had  the  most  perfect  example  of  biog- 
raphy that  was  ever  exhibited.  But  although  he  at 
different  times,  in  a  desultorv  manner,  committed  to 
writing  many  particulars  of  the  progress  of  his  mind 
and  fortunes,  he  never  had  persevering  diligence  enough 
to  form  them  into  a  regular  composition.  Of  these 
memorials  a  few  have  been  preserved  ;  but  the  greater 
part  was  consigned  by  him  to  the  flames,  a  few  days 
before  his  death. 

As  I  had  the  honour  and  happiness  of  enjoying  his 
friendship  for  upwards  of  twenty  years  ;  as  1  had  the 
scheme  of  writing  his  life  constantly"  in  view  ;  as  he 
was  well  apprised  of  this  circumstance,  and  from  time 

1  Idler,  No.  S4. 
VOL.  T.  i 

26  THE    LIFE    OF 

to  time  obligingly  satisfied  ray  enquiries,  by  commu- 
nicating- to  me  the  incidents  of  his  early  years  ;  as  I 
acquired  a  facility  in  recollecting,  and  was  very  assidu- 
ous in  recording,  his  conversation,  of  which  the  extra- 
ordinary vigour  and  vivacity  constituted  one  of  the  first 
features  of  his  character  ;  and  as  1  have  spared  no  pains 
in  obtaining  materials  concerning  him,  from  every 
quarter  where  1  could  discover  that  they  were  to  be 
found,  and  have  been  favoured  with  the  most  liberal 
communications  bv  his  friends  ;  1  flatter  myself  that 
few  biographers  have  entered  upon  such  a  work  as  this, 
with  more  advantages  ;  independent  of  literary  abilities, 
in  which  I  am  not  vain  enough  to  compare  myself  with 
some  great  names  who  have  gone  before  me  in  this 
kind  of  writing. 

Since  my  work  was  announced,  several  Lives  and 
Memoirs  of  Dr.  Johnson  have  been  published,  the  most 
voluminous  of  which  is  one  compiled  for  the  booksellers 
of  London,  by  Sir  John  Hawkins,  Ivnt.  -  a  man,  whom, 
during  my  long  intimacy  with  Dr.  Johnson,  I  never 
saw  in  his  company,  1  think,  but  once,  and  I  am  sure 
not  above  twice.  Johnson  might  have  esteemed  him 
for  his  decent,  religious  demeanour,  and  his  knowledge 
of  books  and  literary  history  ;  but  from  the  rigid  form- 
ality of  his  manners,  it  is  evident  that  they  never  could 
have  lived  together  with  companionable  ease  and  fa- 
miliarity ;  nor  had  Sir  John  Hawkins  that  nice  percep- 
tion which  was  necessary  to  mark  the  finer  and  less 
obvious  parts  of  Johnson's  character.  His  being  ap- 
pointed one  of  his  executors,  gave  him  an  opportunity 
of  taking  possession  of  such  fragments  of  a  diary  and 
other  papers  as  were  left  ;  of  which,   before  delivering 

2  The  greatest  part  of  this  book  was  written  while  Sir  John  Hawkins  was 
alive  ;  and  I  avow,  that  one  object  of  my  strictures  was  to  make  him  feel  some 
compunction  for  his  illiberal  treatment  of  Dr.  Johnson.  Since  his  decease,  I  have 
suppressed  several  of  my  remarks  upon  his  work.  But  though  I  would  not  '  war 
with  the  dead"  offensively,  I  think  it  necessary  to  be  strenuous  in  defence  of  my 
illustrious  friend,  which  I  cannot  be,  without  strong  animadversions  upon  a  writer 
who  has  greatly  injured  him.  Let  me  add,  that  though  I  doubt  I  should  not  have 
been  very  prompt  to  gratify  Sir  John  Hawkins  with  any  compliment  in  his  life- 
time, I  do  now  frankly  acknowledge,  that,  in  my  opinion,  his  volume,  howevc 
inadequate  and  improper  as  a  life  of  Dr.  Johnson,  and  however  discredited  by 
unpardonable  inaccuracies  in  other  respects,  contains  a  collection  of  curious  anec- 
dotes and  observations,  which  few  men  but  its  author  could  have  brought  together 


them  up  to  the  residuary  legatee,  whose  property  the^ 
were,   he  endeavoured  to  extract   the  substance.     In 
this  he  has  not  been  very  successful,  as  I  have  found 
upon  a  perusal  of  those  papers,  which  have  been  sinc< 
trail sl'iiied    to   me.       Sir   John    Hawkins's    ponderous 
labours,   1  must  acknowledge,   exhibit   a   farrago,  o 
which  a  considerable  portion  is  not  devoid  of  entertain- 
ment to  the  lovers  of  literary  gossiping  ;  but  besid<  s  its 
being  swelled  out  with  long  unnecessary  extracts  from 
various  works,  (even  one  of  several  leaves  fromOsborm  'g 
Harleian  Catalogue,  and  those  not  compiled  by  John- 
son, but  by  Oldys,)  a  very  small   part  of  it  relates  to 
the  person  who  is  the  subject  of  the   book  ;  and,  in 
that,  there  is  such  an   inaccuracy  in  the  statement  of 
facts,  as  in  so  solemn  an  authour  is  hardly  excusable, 
and  certainly  makes  his  narrative  very  unsatisfactory. 
But  what  is  still  worse,  there  is  throughout  the  whole 
of  it  a  dark  uncharitable  cast,  bv  which  the  most  unfa- 
vourable  construction  is  put  upon  almost  every  circum- 
stance in  the  character  and  conduct  of  my  illustrious 
friend  ;  who,  I  trust,  will,  by  a  true  and  fair  delineation, 
be  vindicated  both  from  the  injurious  misrepresenta- 
tions of  this  authour,  and  from  the  slighter  aspersions 
of  a  lady  who  once  lived  in  qreat  intimacy  with  him. 

There  is,  in  the  British  Museum,  a  letter  from  Bishop 
Warburton  to  Or.  Birch,  on  the  subject  of  biography; 
which,  though  1  am  aware  it  may  expose  me  to  a  charge 
of  artfully  raising  the  value  of  my  own  work,  by  con- 
trasting it  with  that  of  which  1  have  spoken,  is  so  well 
conceived  and  expressed,  that  i  cannot  refrain  from 
here  inserting  it  : 

"  I  shall  endeavour,  (says  Dr.  Warburton,)  to 
give  you  what  satisfaction  I  can  in  any  thing  you  wanl 
to  be  satisfied  in  any  subject  of  Milton,  and  am  ex- 
tremely glad  you  intend  to  write  his  life.  Almost  all 
the  life-writers  we  have  had  before  Toland  and  l)es- 
maiseaux,  are  indeed  strange  insipid  creatures  :  and  yej 
I  had  rather  read  the  worst  of  them,  than  be  obliged  to 
go  through  with  this  of  Milton's,  or  the  other's  life  of 
Boileau,  where  there  is  such  a  dull  heavy  sue<  ession 

28  THE    LIFE    O* 

of  long  quotations  of  disinteresting  passages,  that  it 
makes  their  method  quite  nauseous.  But  the  verbose, 
tasteless  French  man  seems  to  lay  it  down  as  a  princi- 
ple, that  every  life  must  be  a  book,  and  what's  worse, 
it  proves  a  book  without  a  life  ;  for  what  do  we  know 
of  Boileau,  after  all  his  tedious  stuff  1  You  are  the  only 
one,  (and  1  speak  it  without  a  compliment,)  that  by  the 
vigour  of  your  stile  and  sentiments,  and  the  real  im- 
portance of  your  materials,  have  the  art,  (which  one 
would  imagine  no  one  could  have  missed,)  of  adding 
agreements  to  the  most  agreeable  subject  in  the  world, 
which  is  literary  history."3 
"  Nov.  24,  1737." 

Instead  of  melting  down  my  materials  into  one  mass, 
and  constantly  speaking  in  my  own  person,  by  which  I 
might  have  appeared  to  have  more  merit  in  the  execu- 
tion of  the  work,  I  have  resolved  to  adopt  and  enlarge 
upon  the  excellent  plan  of  Mr.  Mason,  in  his  Memoirs 
of  Gray.  Wherever  narrative  is  necessary  to  explain, 
connect,  and  supply,  I  furnish  it  to  the  best  of  my 
abilities  ;  but  in  the  chronological  series  of  Johnson's 
life,  which  I  trace  as  distinctly  as  I  can,  year  by  year, 
I  produce,  wherever  it  is  in  my  power,  his  own  min- 
utes, letters,  or  conversation,  being  convinced  that  this 
mode  is  more  lively,  and  will  make  my  readers  better 
acquainted  with  him,  than  even  most  of  those  were 
who  actually  knew  him,  but  could  know  him  only  par- 
tially ;  whereas  there  is  here  an  accumulation  of  intel- 
ligence from  various  points,  by  which  his  character  is 
more  fully  understood  and  illustrated. 

Indeed  I  cannot  conceive  a  more  perfect  mode  of 
writing  any  man's  life,  than  not  only  relating  all  the 
most  important  events  of  it  in  their  order,  but  inter- 
weaving what  he  privately  wrote,  and  said,  and  thought ; 
by  which  mankind  are  enabled  as  it  were  to  see  him 
live,  and  to  "  live  o'er  each  scene"  with  him,  as  he  ac- 
tually advanced  through  the  several  stages  of  his  life. 
Had  his  other  friends  been  as  diligent  and  ardent  as  I 

3  Brit.  Mus.  4320,  Ayscough's  Catal.  Sloane  MSS.' 

DR.    JOHNSON.  29 

was,  lie  might  have  been  almost  entirely  preserved. 
As  it  is,  1  will  venture  to  say  that  he  will  be  seen  in 
this  work  more  completely  than  any  man  who  has  ever 
yet  lived. 

And  he  will  be  seen  as  he  really  was  ;  tor  \  prof  3S 
to  write,  not  his  panegyrick,  which  must  be  all  praise, 
but  his  Lite  ;  which,  great  and  good  as  he  was,  must 
not  be  supposed  to  be  entirely  perfect.  To  he  as  he 
was,  is  indeed  subject  of  panegyrick  enough  to  am 
man  in  this  state  of  being  ;  but  in  every  picture  there 
should  be  shade  as  well  as  light,  and  when  1  delineate 
him  without  reserve,  1  do  what  he  himself  recommend- 
ed, both  by  his  precept  and  his  example. 

"  If  the  biographer  writes  from  personal  knowledge, 
and  makes  haste  to  gratify  the  publick  curiosity,  there 
is  danger  lest  his  interest,  his  fear,  his  gratitude,  or  his 
tenderness,  overpower  his  fidelity,  and  tempt  him  to 
conceal,  if  not  to  invent.  There  are  many  who  think 
it  an  act  of  piety  to  hide  the  faults  or  failings  of  their 
friends,  even  when  thev  can  no  longer  suffer  bv  their 
detection  ;  we  therefore  see  whole  ranks  of  characters 
adorned  with  uniform  panegyrick,  and  not  to  be  known 
from  one  another  but  by  extrinsick  and  casual  circum- 
stances. '  Let  me  remember,  (says  Hale.)  when  1  find 
myself  inclined  to  pity  a  criminal,  that  there  is  likewise 
a  pity  due  to  the  country/  If  we  owe  regard  to  the 
memory  of  the  dead,  there  is  yet  more  respect  to  be 
paid  to  knowledge,  to  virtue,  and  to  truth."* 

What  I  consider  as  the  peculiar  value  of  the  follow- 
ing work,  is,  the  quantity  it  contains  of  Johnson's  con- 
versation ;  which  is  universally  acknowledged  to  have 
been  eminently  instructive  and  entertaining  ;  and  of 
which  the  specimens  that  I  have  given  upon  a  former 
occasion,  have  been  received  with  so  much  approbation, 
that  I  have  good  grounds  for  supposing  that  the  world 
will  not  be  indifferent  to  more  ample  communications 
of  a  similar  nature. 

That  the  conversation  of  a  celebrated  man,   if  I 
talents  have  been  exerted  in  conversation,  will   best 
display  his  character,  is,  1  trust,  too  well  established  in 

J  Rambler,  No.  CO, 

30  THE    LIFE    OF 

the  judgement  of  mankind,  to  be  at  all  shaken  by  a 
sneering  observation  of  Mr.  Mason,  in  his  Memoirs  of 
Mr.  William  Whitehead,  in  which  there  is  literally  no 
Life,  but  a  mere  dry  narrative  of  facts.  1  do  not  think 
it  was  quite  necessary  to  attempt  a  depreciation  of  what 
is  universally  esteemed,  because  it  was  not  to  be  found 
in  the  immediate  object  of  the  ingenious  writer's  pen  ; 
for  in  truth,  from  a  man  so  still  and  so  tame,  as  to  be 
contented  to  pass  many  years  as  the  domestick  com= 
pan  ion  of  a  superanuated  lord  and  lady,  conversation 
could  no  more  be  expected,  than  from  a  Chinese  man- 
darin on  a  chimney-piece,  or  the  fantastick  figures  on 
a  gilt  leather  skreen. 

if  authority  be  required,  let  us  appeal  to  Plutarch, 
the  prince  of  ancient  biographers.     Ovre  ra£  hrifw&XTou 

TT^ZyiTl  7T<X.VTW<;  tVtfl  WhU7lG  «f£T>7f  H  XtXlUOCt;,  (X.KKX  7TPXyjUCt  pfCfYV 
TTOhKOMK,     XOCl      ^UOC,     KM     TTOLKtlX     Tl$     i[A$0l.<7lY     JjSoUf     lit  01  WW     fA.UKKCV     t] 

(ttap^a;  juufionx.fci,  7rapot.T<x%us  ai  {/.iyirsci,  x«/  7roKwfKioc  tt'okiuv.     "  Nor 

is  it  always  in  the  most  distinguished  achievements 
that  men's  virtues  or  vices  may  be  best  discerned  ;  but 
very  often  an  action  of  small  note,  a  short  saying,  or  a 
jest,  shall  distinguish  a  person's  real  character  more  than 
the  greatest  sieges,  or  the  most  important  battles."5 

To  this  may  be  added  the  sentiments  of  the  very 
man  whose  life  1  am  about  to  exhibit.  "  The  business 
of  the  biographer  is  often  to  pass  slig;htly  over  those 
performances  and  incidents  which  produce  vulgar  great- 
ness, to  lead  the  thoughts  into  domestick  privacies,  and 
display  the  minute  details  of  daily  life,  where  exteriour 
appendages  are  cast  aside,  and  men  excel  each  other 
only  by  prudence  and  by  virtue.  The  account  of 
Thuanus  is  with  great  propriety  said  by  its  authour  to 
have  been  written,  that  it  might  lay  open  to  posterity 
the  private  and  familiar  character  of  that  man,  cujus 
ingenium  et  candor  em  ex  ipsius  script  is  sunt  olim  semper 
miraturi,  whose  candour  and  genius  will  to  the  end  of 
time  be  by  his  writings  preserved  in  admiration. 

"  There  are  many  invisible  circumstances,  which 
whether  we  read  as  enquirers  after  natural  or  moral 
knowledge,  whether  we  intend  to  enlarge  our  science 

5  Plutarch's  Life  of  Alexander.— Langhorne's  Translation, 

DR.    JOHNSON.  31 

or  increase  our  virtue,  are  more  important  than  publick 
occurrences.  Thus  Sallust,  the  great  master  of  nature 
has  not  forsrot  in  his  account  of  Catiline  to  remark,  that 

his  walk  was  now  quick,  and  again  slow,  ;is  an  indication 
of -a  mind  revolving  with  violent  commotion,  Thus 
the  story  of  Melancthon  affords  a  striking  lecture  on 
the  value  of  time,  by  informing  us,  that  when  he  had 
made  an  appointment,  he  expected  not  only  the  hour, 
but  the  minute  to  be  fixed,  that  the  day  might  not  run 
out  in  the  idleness  of  suspense  ;  and  all  the  plans  and 
enterprises  of  De  Wit  are  now  of  less  importance  to  the 
world  than  that  part  of  his  personal  character,  which 
represents  him  as  careful  of  his  health,  and  negligent 
of  his  life. 

"  But  biography  has  often  been  allotted  to  writers. 
who  seem  very  little  acquainted  with  the  nature  of 
their  task,  or  very  negligent  about  the  performance. 
They  rarely  afford  any  other  account  than  might  be 
collected  from  publick  papers,  but  imagine  themselves 
writing  a  life,  when  they  exhibit  a  chronological  series 
of  actions  or  preferments  ;  and  have  so  little  regard  to 
the  manners  or  behaviour  of  their  heroes,  that  more 
knowledge  may  be  gained  of  a  man's  real  character,  by 
a  short  conversation  with  one  of  his  servants,  than  from 
a  formal  and  studied  narrative,  begun  with  his  pedi- 
gree, and  ended  with  his  funeral. 

"  There  are  indeed,  some  natural  reasons  why  thesi 
narratives  are  often  written  by  such  as  were  not  likely 
to  give  much  instruction  or  delight,  and  why  most  ac- 
counts of  particular  persons  are  barren  ami  useless.      If 
a  life  be  delayed  till  interest  and  envy  are  at  an  end. 
we  may  hope  for  impartiality,  but  must  expect  little 
intelligence  ;  for  the  incidents  which  give  excellent  < 
to  biography  are  of  a  volatile  and  evanescent  kind,  such 
as  soon  escape  the  memory,  and  are  rarely  transmitted 
by  tradition.     We  know  how  few  can  pourtray  a  livii 
acquaintance,  except  by  his  most  prominent  and  ob- 
servable particularities,  and  the  grosser  features  of  his 
mind;  and  it  may  be  easily  imagined   how  much  oi 
this  little  knowledge  may  be  h*f  in  imparting  it",  and 

THE    LIFE    OF 

how  soon  a  succession  of  copies  will  lose  all  resem- 
blance of  the  original/'6 

I  am  fully  aware  of  the  objections  which  may  be 
made  to  the  minuteness  on  some  occasions  of  my  detail 
of  Johnson's  conversation,  and  how  happily  it  is  adapted 
for  the  petty  exercise  of  ridicule,  by  men  of  superficial 
understanding,  and  ludicrous  fancy  ;  but  I  remain  firm 
and  confident  in  my  opinion,  that  minute  particulars 
are  frequently  characteristick,and  always  amusing,  when 
they  relate  to  a  distinguished  man.  I  am  therefore  ex- 
ceedingly unwilling  that  any  thing,  however  slight, 
which  my  illustrious  friend  thought  it  worth  his  while 
to  express,  with  any  degree  of  point,  should  perish. 
For  this  almost  superstitious  reverence,  I  have  found 
very  old  and  venerable  authority,  quoted  by  our  great 
modern  prelate,  Seeker,  in  whose  tenth  sermon  there  is 
the  following  passage  : 

"  Rabbi  David Knnchi,  a  noted  Jewish  Commentator, 
who  lived  about  five  hundred  years  ago,  explains  that 
passage  in  the  first  Psalm,  His  leaf  also  shall  not  ivither, 
from  Rabbins  yet  older  than  himself,  thus  :  That  even 
the  idle  talk,  so  he  expresses  it,  of  a  good  man  ought  to 
he  regarded;  the  most  superfluous  things  he  saith  are 
always  of  some  value.  And  other  ancient  authours 
have  the  same  phrase,  nearly  in  the  same  sense." 

Of  one  thing  1  am  certain,  that  considering  how 
highly  the  small  portion  which  we  have  of  the  table-talk 
and  other  anecdotes  of  our  celebrated  writers  is  valued, 
and  how  earnestly  it  is  regretted  that  we  have  not  more, 
I  am  justified  in  preserving  rather  too  many  of  Johnson's 
sayings,  than  too  few  ;  especially  as  from  the  diversity 
of  dispositions  it  cannot  be  known  with  certainty  be- 
forehand, whether  what  may  seem  trifling  to  some,  and 
perhaps  to  the  collector  himself,  may  not  be  most  agree- 
able to  many  ;  and  the  greater  number  that  an  authour 
can  please  in  any  degree,  the  more  pleasure  does  there 
arise  to  a  benevolent  mind. 

To  those  who  are  weak  enough  to  think  this  a  de- 
grading  task,  and  the  time  and  labour  which  have  been 
devoted  to  it  misemployed,  I  shall  content  myself  with 

5  Rambler,  No.  60r 

DR.    JOHNSON.  33 

opposing  the  authority  of  the  greatest  man  of  any  age,  1709. 
Julius  Cesar,  of  whom  Bacon  observes,  that  ,%  in  his  ^'^ 
book  of  Apophthegms  which  he  collected,  we  see  that 
he  esteemed  it  more  honour  to  make  himself  but  a  pair 

of  tables,  to  take  the  wise  and  pithy  words  of  others, 
than  to  have  every  word  of  his  own  to  be  made  an 
apophthegm  or  an  oracle."7 

Having-  said  thus  much  bv  way  of  introduction,  I 

commit  the  following  pages  to  the  candour  of  the  Pub- 

Samuel  Johnson  was  born  at  Lichfield,  in  Stafford- 
shire, on  the  18th  of  September,  N.  S.  1709  ;  and  his 
initiation  into  the  Christian  church  was  not  delayed  ; 
for  his  baptism  is  recorded,  in  the  register  of  St.  Mary's 
parish  in  that  city,  to  have  been  performed  on  the  day 
of  his  birth  :  His  father  is  there  stiled  Gentleman,  a  cir- 
cumstance of  which  an  ignorant  panegyrist  has  praised 
him  for  not  being  proud ;  when  the  truth  is,  that  the 
appellation  of  Gentleman,  though  now  lost  in  the  indis- 
criminate assumption  oi  Esquire,  was  commonly  taken 
bv  those  who  could  not  boast  of  gentility,  llis  father 
was  Michael  Johnson,  a  native  of  Derbyshire,  of  ob- 
scure extraction,  who  settled  in  Lichfield  as  a  booksel- 
ler and  stationer.  His  mother  was  Sarah  Lord,  de- 
scended of  an  ancient  race  of  substantial  yeomanry  in 
Warwickshire.  They  were  well  advanced  in  years 
when  they  married,  and  never  had  more  than  two  chil- 
dren, both  sons;  Samuel,  their  first-born,  who  lived  to 
be  the  illustrious  character  whose  various  excellence  I 
am  to  endeavour  to  record,  and  Nathanael,  who  died 
in  his  twenty-fifth  year.* 

Mr.  Michael  Johnson  was  a  man  of  a  large  and  ro- 
bust body,  and  of  a  strong  and  active  mind  ;  yet,  as  in 
the  most  solid  rocks  veins  of  unsound  substance  are 

'  Bacon's  Advancement  of  Learning,  Book  I. 

*  [Nathanael  was  born  in  1712,  and  died  in  1737.  Their  father,  Michael  John- 
son, was  born  at  Cubley  in  Derbyshire,  in  1656,  and  died  at  Lichfield  in  1731,  at 
the  age  of  seventy-six.  Sarah  Ford,  his  wife,  was  born  at  King's-Norton,  in  the 
county  of  Warwick,  m  1669,  and  died  at  Lichfield,  in  January  17  59,  lb  her  nioe- 
tieth  year.     M.] 

vol,  i.  5 

34  THE    LIFE    OF 

often  discovered,  there  was  in  him  a  mixture  of  that 
disease,  the  nature  of  which  eludes  the  most  minute 
enquiry,  though  the  effects  are  well  known  to  be  a 
weariness  of  life,  an  unconcern  about  those  things 
which  agitate  the  greater  part  of  mankind,  and  a  gen- 
eral sensation  of  gloomy  wretchedness.  From  him  then 
his  son  inherited,  with  some  other  qualities,  "  a  vile 
melancholy,"  which  in  his  too  strong  expression  of  any 
disturbance  of  the  mind,  "  made  him  mad  all  his  life, 
at  least  not  sober."3  Michael  was,  however,  forced  by 
the  narrowness  of  his  circumstances  to  be  very  diligent 
in  business,  not  only  in  his  shop,  but  by  occasionally 
resorting  to  several  towns  in  the  neighbourhood,9  some 
of  which  were  at  a  considerable  distance  from  Lichfield. 
At  that  time  booksellers'  shops  in  the  provincial  towns 
of  England,  were  verv  rare,  so  that  there  was  not  one 
even  in  Birmingham,  in  which  town  old  Mr.  Johnson 
used  to  open  a  shop  every  market-day.  lie  was  a 
pretty  good  Latin  scholar,  and  a  citizen  so  creditable 
as  to  be  made  one  of  the  magistrates  of  Lichfield  ; 
and,  being  a  man  of  good  sense,  and  skill  in  his  trade, 
he  acquired  a  reasonable  share  of  wealth,  of  which 
however  he  afterwards  lost  the  greatest  part,  by  engag- 
ing unsuccessfully  in  a  manufacture  of  parchment.  He 
was  a  zealous  high-church  man  and  royalist,  and  retain- 
ed his  attachment  to  the  unfortunate  house  of  Stuart, 
though  he  reconciled  himself,  bv  casuistical  arguments 
of  expediency  and  necessity,  to  take  the  oaths  imposed 
by  the  prevailing  power. 

There  is  a  circumstance  in  his  life  somewhat  roman- 
tick,  but  so  well  authenticated,  that  1  shall  not  omit  it. 
A  young  woman  of  Leek,  in  Staffordshire,  while  he 
served  his  apprenticeship  there,  conceived  a  violent 
passion  for  him  ;  and  though  it  met  with  no  favourable 

3  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d  edit.  p.  213. 

"  Extract  of  a  Letter,  dated  "  Trentham,  St.  Peter's  day,  1716,"  written  by  the 
Rev.  George  Plaxton,  Chaplain  at  that  time  to  .Lord  Gower,  which  may  serve  to 
show  the  high  estimation  in  which  the  Father  of  our  great  Moralist  was  held  : — 
"  Johnson,  the  Lichfield  Librarian,  is  now  here  ;  he  propagates  learning  all  over  this 
diocese,  and  advanceth  knowledge  to  its  just  height  ;  all  the  Clergy  here  are  his 
Pupils,  and  suck  all  they  have  from  him  ;  Allen  cannot  make  a  warrant  without 
his  precedent,  nor  eur  quondam  John  Evans  draw  a  recognizance  sine  directionc 
Mkhadh.  Gentleman's  Magazine,  October,  17f»l . 


return,  followed  him  to  Lichfield,  where  she  took  lodg-  )'1-" 
hags  opposite  to  the  house  in  which  he  lived,  and  in-jg^ 
dulged  Iht  hopeless  flame.  When  he  was  informed  it  so  preyed  upon  her  mind  that  her  life  was  in 
danger,  lie  with  a  generous  humanity  went  to  her  and 
offered  t<>  marry  her,  but  it  was  then  too  late  :  Her 
vital  power  was  exhausted  ;  and  she  actually  exhibited 
one  of  the  very  rare  instances  of  dying  for  love.  She 
was  buried  in  the  cathedral  of  Lichfield  ;  and  he,  with 
a  tender  regard,  placed  a  stone  over  her  grave  with  this 
inscription  : 

Here  lies  the  body  of 

Airs.  Elizabeth  Blank y,  a  stranger: 

She  departed  this  life 

90  of  September,    1694. 

Johnson's  mother  was  a  woman  of  distinguished  un- 
derstanding.* 1  asked  his  old  school-fellow,  Mr.  I  lee- 
tor,  surgeon,  of  Birmingham,  if  she  was  not  vain  of  her 
son.  He  said,  "  she  had  too  much  good  sense  to  be 
vain,  but  she  knew  her  son's  value."  Her  piety  was 
not  inferiour  to  her  understanding  ;  and  to  her  must  be 
ascribed  those  early  impressions  of  religion  upon  the 
mind  of  her  son,  from  which  the  world  afterwards  de- 
rived so  much  benefit.  He  told  me,  that  he  remem- 
bered distinctly  having  had  the  first  notice  <>t"  Heaven, 
•4  a  place  to  which  good  people  went,"  and  hell,   "  a 

[It  was  not,  however,  much  cultivated,  as  we  may  collect  from  Dr.  Johnson'^ 
own  account  of  his  early  years,  published  by  R.  Phillips,  8vo.  1805,  a  work  un- 
doubtedly authentick,  and  which,  though  short,  is  curious,  and  well  worthy  o' 
perusal.  "  My  father  and  mother  (says  Johnson)  had  not  much  happiness  from 
each  other.  They  seldom  conversed  ;  for  my  father  could  not  bear  to  talk  of  hi 
affairs  ;  and  my  mother,  being  unacquainted  -with  books,  cared  not  to  talk  of  any  thing 
else.  Had  my  mother  been  more  literate,  they  had  been  better  companions.  She 
might  have  sometimes  introduced  her  unwelcome  topick  with  more  success,  il  she 
could  have  diversified  her  conversation.  Of  business  she  had  no  distinct  concep- 
tion ;  and  therefore  her  discourse  was  composed  only  of  complaint,  fear,  and  sus- 
picion. Neither  of  them  ever  tried  to  calculate  the  prolits  of  trade,  or  the  ex- 
pences  of  living.  My  mother  concluded  that  we  were  poor,  because  we  lost  by 
some  of  our  trades  ;  but  the  truth  was,  that  my  father,  having  in  the  early  part  of 
his  life  contracted  debts,  never  had  trade  sufficient  to  enable  him  to  pay  them, 
and  to  maintain  his  family  :  he  got  something,  but  not  enough.  It  was  not  :ii 
about  1768,  that  I  thought  to  calculate  the  returns  of  my  father's  trade,  and  DJ 
b      estimate  his  probable  profits.     This  my  parents  never  did." 

THE    LIFE    OF 

place  to  which  bad  people  went,"  communicated  to 
him  by  her,  when  a  little  child  in  bed  with  her  ;  and 
that  it  might  be  the  better  fixed  in  his  memory,  she 
sent  him  to  repeat  it  to  Thomas  Jackson,  their  man- 
servant ;  he  not  being  in  the  way,  this  was  not  done  ; 
but  there  was  no  occasion  for  any  artificial  aid  for  its 

In  following  so  very  eminent  a  man  from  his  cradle 
to  his  grave,  every  minute  particular,  which  can  throw 
light  on  the  progress  of  his  mind,  is  interesting.  That 
he  was  remarkable,  even  in  his  earliest  years,  may 
easily  be  supposed  ;  for  to  use  his  own  words  in  his 
Life  of  Sydenham,  "  That  the  strength  of  his  under- 
standing, the  accuracy  of  his  discernment,  and  the 
ardour  of  his  curiosity,  might  have  been  remarked  from 
his  infancy,  by  a  diligent  observer,  there  is  no  reason  to 
doubt.  For,  there  is  no  instance  of  any  man,  whose 
history  has  been  minutely  related,  that  did  not  in  every 
part  of  life  discover  the  same  proportion  of  intellectual 

In  all  such  investigations  it  is  certainly  unwise  to  pay 
too  much  attention  to  incidents  which  the  credulous 
relate  with  eager  satisfaction,  and  the  more  scrupulous 
or  witty  enquirer  considers  only  as  topicks  of  ridicule  : 
Yet  there  is  a  traditional  story  of  the  infant  Hercules 
of  toryism,  so  curiously  characteristick,  that  I  shall  not 
withhold  it.  It  was  communicated  to  me  in  a  letter 
from  Miss  Mary  Adye,  of  Lichfield. 

"  When  Dr.  Sacheverel  was  at  Lichfield,  Johnson  was 
not  quite  three  years  old.  My  grandfather  Hammond 
observed  him  at  the  cathedral  perched  upon  his  father's 
shoulders,  listening  and  gaping  at  the  much  celebrated 
preacher.  Mr.  Hammond  asked  Mr.  Johnson  how  he 
could  possibly  think  of  bringing  such  an  infant  to 
church,  and  in  the  midst  of  so  great  a  croud.  He  an- 
swered, because  it  was  impossible  to  keep  him  at  home  ; 
for,  young  as  he  was,  he  believed  he  had  caught  the 
pubiick  spirit  and  zeal  for  Sacheverel,  and  would  have 
staid  for  ever  in  the>  satisfied  with  beholding 

DR.    JOHNSON.  37 

Nor  can  1  omit  a  little  instance  of  that  jealous  inde-  *712. 
pendenee  of  spirit,  and  impetuosity  of  temper,  which  ^,^~ 
never  forsook  him.  The  fact  was  acknowledged  to  me  3. 
by  himself,  upon  the  authority  of  his  mother.  ( )ne  day, 
when  the  servant  who  used  to  be  sent  to  school  to 
conduct  him  home,  had  not  come  in  time,  he  set  out  by 
himself,  though  he  was  then  so  near-sighted,  that  he  was 
obliged  to  stoop  down  on  his  hands  and  knees  to  take  a 
view  of  the  kennel  before  he  ventured  to  step  over  it. 
His  school-mistress,  afraid  that  he  might  miss  his  way, 
or  fall  into  the  kennel,  or  be  run  over  bv  a  cart,  fol- 
lowed  him  at  some  distance.  He  happened  to  turn 
about  and  perceive  her.  Feeling  her  careful  attention 
as  an  insult  to  his  manliness,  he  ran  back  to  her  in  a 
rage,  and  beat  her,  as  well  as  his  strength  would 

Of  the  power  of  his  memory,  for  which  he  was  all 
his  life  eminent  to  a  decree  almost  incredible,  the  fol- 
lowing  early  instance  wras  told  me  in  his  presence  at 
Lichfield,  in  1776,  by  his  step-daughter,  Mrs.  Lucy 
Porter,  as  related  to  her  by  his  mother.  When  he  was 
a  child  in  petticoats,  and  had  learnt  to  read,  Mrs.  John- 
son one  morning  put  the  common  prayer-book  into  his 
hands,  pointed  to  the  collect  for  the  day,  and  said, 
"  Sam,  you  must  get  this  by  heart."  She  went  up 
stairs,  leaving  him  to  study  it  :  but  by  the  time  she 
had  reached  the  second  floor,  she  heard  him  following 
her.  "  What's  the  matter  V  said  she.  "  I  can  say 
it,"  he  replied  ;  and  repeated  it  distinctly,  though  he 
could  not  have  read  it  more  than  twice. 

But  there  has  been  another  story  of  his  infant  pre- 
cocity generally  circulated,  and  generally  believed,  the 
truth  of  which  1  am  to  refute  upon  his  own  authority. 
It  is  told,1  that,  when  a  child  of  three  years  old,  he 
chanced  to  tread  upon  a  duckling,  the  eleventh  of  a 
brood,  and  killed  it  ;  upon  which,  it  is  said,  he  dicta- 
ted to  his  mother  the  following  epitaph  ; 

1  Anecdotes  of  Dr.  Johnson  by  Hester  Lynch  Piozzi,  p.  11.  Life  of  Dr.  John- 
son bv  Sir  John  Ha'wkins,  p.  »> 

38  THE    LIFE    OP 

1713.  ««  Here  lies  good  master  duck, 

jgt"^  Whom  Samuel  .Johnson  trod  on  ; 

3.  If  it  had  liv'd,  it  had  been  good  luck, 

For  then  we'd  had  an  odd  one." 

There  is  surely  internal  evidence  that  this  little  com- 
position combines  in  it,  what  no  child  of  three  years 
old  could  produce,  without  an  extension  of  its  facul- 
ties by  immediate  inspiration  ;  yet  Mrs.  Lucy  Porter, 
Dr.  Johnson's  step-daughter,  positively  maintained  to 
me,  in  his  presence,  that  there  could  be  no  doubt  of 
the  truth  of  this  anecdote,  for  she  had  heard  it  from 
his  mother.  So  difficult  is  it  to  obtain  an  authentick 
relation  of  facts,  and  such  authority  may  there  be  for 
errour  ;  for  he  assured  me,  that  his  father  made  the 
verses,  and  wished  to  pass  them  for  his  child's.  He 
added,  "  my  father  was  a  foolish  old  man  ;  that  is  to 
say,  foolish  in  talking  of  his  children." % 

Young  Johnson  had  the  misfortune  to  be  much  af- 
flicted with  the  scrophula,  or  king's-evil,  which  dis- 
figured a  countenance  naturally  well  formed,  and  hurt 
his  visual  nerves  so  much,  that  he  did  not  see  at  all 
with  one  of  his  eyes,  though  its  appearance  was  little 
different  from  that  of  the  other.  There  is  amongst  his 
prayers,  one  inscribed  "  When  my  eye  was  restored 
to  its  use"*  which  ascertains  a  defect  that  manv  of  his 

2  This  anecdote  of  the  duck,  though  disproved  by  internal  and  external  evi- 
dence, has  nevertheless,  upon  supposition  of  its  truth,  been  made  the  foundation  of 
the  following  ingenious  and  fanciful  reflections  of  Miss  Seward,  amongst  the  com- 
munications concerning  Dr.  Johnson  with  which  she  has  been  pleased  to  favour 
me  : — f  These  infant  numbers  contain  the  seeds  of  those  propensities  which  through 
his  life  so  strongly  marked  his  character,  of  that  poetick  talent  which  afterwards 
bore  such  rich  and  plentiful  fruits ;  for,  excepting  his  orthographick  works,  every 
thing  which  Dr.  Johnson  wrote  was  poetry,  whose  essence  consists  not  in  numbers, 
or  in  jingle,  but  in  the  strength  and  glow  of  a  fancy,  to  which  all  the  stores  of  nature 
and  of  art  stand  in  prompt  administration  ;  and  in  an  eloquence  which  conveys  their 
blended  illustrations  in  a  language  '  more  tuneable  than  needs  or  rhyme  or  verse  to 
add  more  harmony.' 

"  The  above  little  verses  also  shew  that  superstitious  hias  which 'grew  with  Ids 
growth,  and  strengthened  with  his  strength,'  and,  of  late  years  particularly,  injured 
his  happiness,  by  presenting  to  him  the  gloomy  side  of  religion,  rather  than  that 
bright  and  cheering  one  which  gilds  the  period  of  closing  life,  with  the  light  of  pious 

This  is  so  beautifully  imagined,  that  I  would  not  suppress  it.  many 
other  theories,  it  is  deduced  from  a  supposed  fact,  which  is,  indeed,  a  fiction. 

1  Prayers  and  Meditations,  p.  2Y. 

DR.   JOHNSON.  39 

friends  knew  he  had,  though  1  never  perceived  it.4  I 
supposed  him  to  be  only  near  sighted  ;  and  indeed  I 
must  observe,  that  in  no  other  respect  could  1  discern 
any  detect  in  his  vision  ;  on  the  contrary,  the  force  of 
his  attention  and  perceptive  quickness  made  him  see 
and  distinguish  all  manner  of  objects,  whether  of  na- 
ture or  of  art,  with  a  nicety  that  is  rarely  to  be  found. 
When  he  and  i  were  travelling  in  the  Highlands  of 
Scotland,  and  I  pointed  out  to  him  a  mountain  which 
I  observed  resembled  a  cone,  he  corrected  my  inaccu- 
racy, by  shewing  me,  that  it  was  indeed  pointed  at 
the  top,  but  that  one  side  of  it  was  larger  than  the 
other.  And  the  ladies  with  whom  he  was  acrjuainted 
agree,  that  no  man  was  more  nicely  and  minutely  crit- 
ical in  the  elegance  of  female  dress.  \\  lien  1  found 
that  he  saw  the  romantick  beauties  of  Islam,  in  Derby- 
shire, much  better  than  I  did,  I  told  him  that  he  re- 
sembled an  able  performer  upon  a  bad  instrument. 
How  false  and  contemptible  then  are  all  the  remarks 
which  have  been  made  to  the  prejudice  either  of  his 
candour  or  of  his  philosophy,  founded  upon  a  suppo- 
sition that  he  was  almost  blind.  It  has  been  said, 
that  he  contracted  this  grievous  maladv  from  his 
nurse.5  His  mother,  yielding  to  the  superstitious  no- 
tion, which,  it  is  wonderful  to  think,  prevailed  so  long 
in  this  country,  as  to  the  virtue  of  the  regal  touch  :  a 
notion,  which  our  kings  encouraged,  and  to  which  a 
man  of  such  enquiry  and  such  judgement  as  Carte 
could  give  credit  ;  carried  him  to  London,  where  he 
was  actually  touched  by  Queen  Anne.6  Mrs.  John- 
son indeed,  as   Mr.  Hector  informed  me.  acted  by  the 

4  [Speaking  himself  of  the  imperfection  of  one  of  his  eyes,  he  said  to  Dr.  Burney, 
"  the  dog  was  never  good  for  much."      B.] 

[Such  was  the  opinion  of  Dr.  Swinfen.  Johnson's  eyes  were  very  soon  dis- 
covered to  be  bad,  and  to  relieve  them,  an  issue  was  cut  in  his  left  arm.  At  the 
end  of  ten  weeks  from  his  birth,  he  was  taken  home  from  hia  nurse, "  a  poor  di_- 
eased  infant,  almost  blind."  See  a  work,  already  quoted,  entitled  "  An  Accou 
of  the  Life  of  Dr.  Samuel  Johnson,  from  his  birth  to  las  eleventh  year  ;  written  by 
himself."  8vo.   1805.  M.] 

'  [He  was  only  thirty  months  old,  when  he  was  tak<  ;i  to  London  to  be  touch- 
ed for  the  evil.  During  this  visit,  he  tells  us,  his  mother  purchased  for  him  a  small 
silver  cup  and  spoon.  "  The  cup,"  he  affectingly  adds  "  was  one  of  the  last  pieces  of 
plate  which  dear  Tettv  sold  in  our  distress.  I  have  now  the  spoon.  She  bought  at 
the  same  time  two  tea-spoon",  and  till  my  manh    -  ;     ' ■    '  j •'  ■  "     . 

40  THE    LIFE    OF 

advice  of  the  celebrated  Sir  John  Floyer,  then  a  physi- 
cian in  Lichfield.  Johnson  used  to  talk  of  this  very 
frankly  ;  and  Mrs.  Piozzi  has  preserved  his  very  pic- 
turesque description  of  the  scene,  as  it  remained  upon 
his  fancy.  Being  asked  if  he  could  remember  Queen 
Anne, — "  He  had  (he  said)  a  confused,  but  somehow 
a  sort  of  solemn  recollection  of  a  lady  in  diamonds, 
and  a  long  black  hood."7  This  touch,  however,  was 
without  any  effect.  I  ventured  to  say  to  him,  in  allu- 
sion to  the  political  principles  in  which  he  was  edu- 
cated, and  of  which  he  ever  retained  some  odour,  that 
"  his  mother  had  not  carried  him  far  enough  ;  she  should 
have  taken  him  to  Rome." 

He  was  first  taught  to  read  English  by  Dame  Oliver, 
a  widow,  who  kept  a  school  for  young  children  in  Lich- 
field. He  told  me  she  could  read  the  black  letter,  and 
asked  him  to  borrow  for  her,  from  his  father,  a  bible  in 
that  character.  When  he  was  going  to  Oxford,  she 
came  to  take  leave  of  him,  brought  him,  in  the  simplicity 
of  her  kindness,  a  present  of  gingerbread,  and  said  he 
was  the  best  scholar  she  ever  had.  He  delighted  in 
mentioning  this  early  compliment :  adding,  with  a  smile, 
that  "  this  was  as  high  a  proof  of  his  merit  as  he  could 
conceive."  His  next  instructor  in  English  was  a  mas- 
ter, whom,  when  he  spoke  ot  him  to  me,  he  familiarly 
called  Tom  I3rown,  who,  said  he,  "  published  a  spell- 
ing-book, and  dedicated  it  to  the  Universe  ;  but,  I 
fear,  no  copy  of  it  can  now  be  had." 

He  began  to  learn  Latin  with  Mr.  Hawkins,  usher, 
or  under-master  of  Lichfield  school,  "  a  man  (said  he) 
very  skilful  in  his  little  way."  With  him  he  continu- 
ed two  years,  and  then  rose  to  be  under  the  care  of 
Mr.  Hunter,  the  head-master,  who,  according  to  his 
account.  "  was  very  severe,  and  wrong-headedly  severe. 
He  used  (said  he)  to  beat  us  unmercifully ;  and  he  did 
not  distinguish  between  ignorance  and  negligence  ;  for 
he  would  beat  a  boy  equally  for  not  knowing  a  thing, 
as  for  neglecting  to  know  it.  He  would  ask  a  boy  a 
question,  and  if  he  did  not  answer  it,  he  would  beai 
him,  without  considering  whether  he  had  an  opporfu 

7  Anecdotes,  p.  l^ 

DR.    JOHNSON.  41 

nitv  of  knowing  how  to  answer  it.  For  instance,  he 
would  call  up  a  boy  and  ask  him  Latin  for  a  candlestick, 
which  the  boy  could  not  expect  to  be  asked.  Now, 
Sir,  if  a  boy  could  answer  every  question,  there  would 
be  no  need  of  a  master  to  teach  him." 

It  is,  however,  but  justice  to  the  memory  of  Mr. 
Hunter  to  mention,  that  though  he  might  err  in  being 
too  severe,  the  school  of  Lichfield  was  very  respectable 
in  his  time.  The  late  Dr.  Taylor,  Prebendary  of  VV  est- 
minster,  who  was  educated  under  him,  told  me,  that 
"  he  was  an  excellent  master,  and  that  his  ushers  were 
most  of  them  men  of  eminence  ;  that  llolbrook,  one  of 
the  most  ingenious  men,  best  scholars,  and  best  preach- 
ers of  his  age,  was  usher  during  the  greatest  part  of  the 
time  that  Johnson  was  at  school.  Then  came  Hague, 
of  whom  as  much  might  be  said,  with  the  addition  that 
he  was  an  elegant  poet.  Hague  was  succeeded  by 
Green,  afterwards  Bishop  of  Lincoln,  whose  character 
in  the  learned  world  is  well  known.  In  the  same  form 
with  Johnson  was  Congreve,  who  afterwards  became 
chaplain  to  Archbishop  Boulter,  and  by  that  connection 
obtained  good  preferment  in  Ireland.  He  was  a  younger 
son  of  the  ancient  family  of  Congreve,  in  Staffordshire, 
of  which  the  poet  was  a  branch.  1  i  is  brother  sold  the 
estate.  There  was  also  Lowe,  afterwards  Canon  of 

Indeed  Johnson  was  very  sensible  how  much  he  owed 
to  Mr.  Hunter.  Mr.  Langton  one  day  asked  him  how  he 
had  acquired  so  accurate  a  knowledge  of  Latin,  in  which, 
1  believe,  he  was  exceeded  by  no  man  of  his  time  ;  he 
said,  "  My  master  whipt  me  very  well.  Without  that, 
Sir,  I  should  have  done  nothing."  He  told  Mr.  Lang- 
ton,  that  while  Hunter  was  flogging  his  boys  unmerci- 
fully, he  used  to  say,  "  And  this  1  do  to  save  you  from 
the  gallows."  Johnson,  upon  all  occasions,  expressed 
his  approbation  of  enforcing  instruction  by  means  ot  the 
rod.8  "  I  would  rather  (said  he)  have  the  rod  to  be  the 
general  terrour  to  all,  to  make  them  learn,  than  tell  a 
child,  if  you  do  thus,  or  thus,  you  will  be  more  esteem- 

8  [Johnson's  observations  to  Dr.  Rose,  on  this  subject,  may  be  found  in  a  sub- 
sequent part  of  this  work.     See  vol.  ii.  near  the  eiul  of  the  year  1 775.     B.] 

vol.  r.  6' 

THE    LIFE    OF 

ed  than  your  brothers  or  sisters.  The  rod  produces  an 
effect  which  terminates  in  itself.  A  child  is  afraid  of 
being  whipped,  and  gets  his  task,  and  there's  an  end 
on't;  whereas,  by  exciting  emulation  and  comparisons 
of  superiority,  you  lay  the  foundation  of  lasting  mis- 
chief; you  make  brothers  and  sisters  hate  each  other." 
When  Johnson  saw  some  youn°'  ladies  in  Lincoln- 
shire  who  were  remarkably  well  behaved,  owing  to  their 
mother's  strict  discipline  and  severe  correction,  he  ex- 
claimed, in  one  of  Shakspeare's  lines  a  little  varied,9 
"  Rod,  I  will  honour  thee  lor  this  thy  duty." 
That  superiority  over  his  fellows,  which  he  maintain- 
ed with  so  much  dignity  in  his  march  through  life,  was 
not  assumed  from  vanity  and  ostentation,  but  was  the 
natural  and  constant  effect  of  those  extraordinary  pow- 
ers of  mind,  of  which  he  could  not  but  be  conscious  by 
comparison  ;  the  intellectual  difference,  which  in  other 
cases  of  comparison  of  characters,  is  often  a  matter  of 
undecided  contest,  being  as  clear  in  his  case  as  the  su- 
periority of  stature  in  some  men  above  others.  John- 
son did  not  strut  or  stand  on  tip-toe  ;  he  only  did  not 
stoop.  From  his  earliest  years,  his  superiority  was  per- 
Ceived  and  acknowledged.  He  was  from  the  beginning 
A*«£  aylfuv,  a  king  of  men.  His  school-fellow,  Mr. 
Hector,  has  obligingly  furnished  me  with  many  partic- 
ulars of  his  boyish  days  ;  and  assured  me  that  he  never 
knew  him  corrected  at  school,  but  for  talking  and  di- 
verting other  boys  from  their  business.  He  seemed  to 
Jearn  by  intuition  ;  for  though  indolence  and  procrasti- 
nation were  inherent  in  his  constitution,  whenever  he 
made  an  exertion  he  did  more  than  any  one  else.  In 
short,  he  is  a  memorable  instance  of  what  has  been  of- 
ten observed,  that  the  boy  is  the  man  in  miniature  :  and 
that  the  distinguishing  characteristicks  of  each  individ- 
ual are  the  same,  through  the  whole  course  of  life. 
His  favourites  used  to  receive  very  liberal  assistance 
from  him  ;  and  such  was  the  submission  and  deference 
with  which  he  was  treated,  such  the  desire  to  obtain 
his  regard,  that  three  of  the  boys,  of  whom  Mr.  Hector 

0  [More  than  a  little.     The  line  is  in  King  Henry  vi.  Part  ii.  act.  iv.  sc.  last  : 
"  Sword,  I  will  hallow  thee  for  this  thy  deed."  M.] 

T)R.    JOHNSON.  43 

was  sometimes  one,  used  to  come  in  the  morning  as  bis 
humble  attendants,  and  carry  him  to  school.  One  in 
the  middle  stooped,  while  lie  sat  upon  his  back,  and  on< 
on  each  side  supported  him  ;  and  thus  he  was  home 
triumphant.  Such  a  proof  of  the  early  predominance 
of  intellectual  vigour  is  very  remarkable,  and  does  hon- 
our to  human  nature. —  Talking  to  me  once  himself  of 
his  being  much  distinguished  at  school,  he  told  me, 
;t  they  never  thought  to  raise  me  by  comparing  me  to 
any  one  ;  they  never  said,  Johnson  is  as  good  a  schol- 
ar as  such  a  one  ;  but  such  a  one  is  as  good  a  scholar 
as  Johnson  ;  and  this  was  said  but  of  one,  but  of  Lowe  ; 
and  I  do  not  think  he  was  as  good  a  scholar." 

He  discovered  a  great  ambition  to  excel,  which 
reused  him  to  counteract  his  indolence.  He  was  un- 
commonly inquisitive  ;  and  his  memory  was  so  tena- 
cious, that  he  never  forgot  any  thing  that  he  either  heard 
or  read.  Mr.  Hector  remembers  having  recited  to 
him  eighteen  verses,  which,  after  a  little  pause,  hi 
repeated  verbatim,  varying  only  one  epithet,  by  which 
he  improved  the  line. 

He  never  joined  with  the  other  boys  in  their  ordinary 
diversions  :  his  only  amusement  was  in  winter,  when 
he  took  a  pleasure  in  being  drawn  upon  the  ice  by  a 
boy  barefooted,  who  pulled  him  along  by  a  garter  fixed 
round  him ;  no  very  easy  operation,  as  his  size  was  re 
markably  large.  His  defective  sight,  indeed,  prevented 
him  from  enjoying  the  common  sports  ;  and  he  once 
pleasantly  remarked  to  me,  "  how  wonderfully  well  he 
had  contrived  to  be  idle  without  them."  Lord  Chester- 
field, however,  has  justly  observed  in  one  of  his  letters, 
when  earnestly-  cautioning  a  friend  against  the  perni- 
cious effects  of  idleness,  that  active  sports  are  not  to  be 
reckoned  idleness  in  young  people  ;  and  that  the  list- 
less torpor  of  doing  nothing,  alone  deserves  that  name. 
Of  this  dismal  inertness  of  disposition,  Johnson  had  all 
his  life  too  great  a  share.  Mr.  Hector  relates,  that  "  h< 
could  not  oblige  him  more  than  by  sauntering  away  the 
hours  of  vacation  in  the  fields,  during  which  he  was 
more  engaged  in  talking  to  himself  than  to  his  compan- 

*4j  I  HE    LIFE    OF 

1725.  Dr.  Percy,  the  Bishop  of  Dromore,  who  was  longm- 
^gtot.  timately  acquainted  with  him,  and  has  preserved  a  few 
16.  anecdotes  concerning  him,  regretting  that  he  was  not  a 
more  diligent  collector,  informs  me,  that  "  when  a  boy 
he  was  immoderately  fond  of  reading  romances  of  chiv- 
alry, and  he  retained  his  fondness  for  them  through  life  ; 
so  that  (adds  his  Lordship)  spending  part  of  a  summer 
at  my  parsonage-house  in  the  country,  he  chose  for  his 
regular  reading  the  old  Spanish  romance  of  Kelix- 
marte  of  Hircama,  in  folio,  which  he  read  quite 
through.  Yet  I  have  heard  him  attribute  to  these  ex- 
travagant fictions  that  unsettled  turn  of  mind  which  pre- 
vented his  ever  fixing  in  any  profession." 

After  having  resided  for  some  time  at  the  house  of 
his  uncle,1  Cornelius  Ford,  Johnson  was,  at  the  age,  of 
fifteen,  removed  to  the  school  of  Stourbridge,  in  Wor- 
cestershire, of  which  Mr.  Wentworth  was  then  master. 
This  step  was  taken  by  the  advice  of  his  cousin,  the 
Rev.  Mr.  Ford,  a  man  in  whom  both  talents  and  good 
dispositions  were  disgraced  by  licentiousness,2  but  who 
was  a  very  able  judge  of  what  was  right.  At  this  school 
he  did  not  receive  so  much  benefit  as  was  expected. 
It  has  been  said,  that  he  acted  in  the  capacity  of  an  as- 
sistant to  Mr.  Wentworth,  in  teaching  the  younger  boys. 
"  Mr.  YV'entworth  (he  told  me)  was  a  very  able  man, 
but  an  idle  man,  and  to  me  very  severe  ;  but  I  cannot 
blame  him  much.  I  was  then  a  big  boy  ;  he  saw  I  did 
not  reverence  him  ;  and  that  he  should  get  no  honour 
by  me.  I  had  brought  enough  with  me,  to  carry  me 
through  ;  and  all  I  should  get  at  his  school  would  be 
ascribed  to  my  own  labour,  or  to  my  former  master. 
Yet  he  taught  me  a  great  deal." 

He  thus  discriminated,  to  Dr.  Percy,  Bishop  of  Dro- 
more, his  progress  at  his  two  grammar-schools.  "  At 
one,  I  learned  much  in  the  school,  but  little  from  the 
master  ;  in  the  other,  I  learnt  much  from  the  master, 
but  little  in  the  school." 

1  [Cornelius  Ford,  according  to  Sir  John  Hawkins,  was  his  cousin-german,  being 
the  son  of  Dr.  Joseph  [Q.  Nathanael]  Ford,  an  eminent  Physician,  who  was  broth- 
er to  Johnson's  mother.     M.] 

2  He  is  said  to  be  the  original  of  the  parson  in  Hogarth's  Modern  Midnight  Con- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  45 

The  Bishop  also  informs  me,  that  "  Dr.  Johnson's  fa- 
ther, before  he  was  received  at  Stourbridge,  applied  to 
have  him  admitted  as  a  scholar  and  assistant  to  the  Rev. 
Samuel  Lea,  M.  A.,  head  master  of  Newport  school,  in 
Shropshire  ;  (a  very  diligent  good  teacher,  at  that  time 
in  high  reputation,  under  whom  Mr.  Jlollis  is  said,  in 
the  Memoirs  of  his  Life,  to  have  been  also  educated.)3 
This  application  to  Mr.  Lea  was  not  successful  ;  but 
Johnson  had  afterwards  the  gratification  to  hear  that  the 
old  gentleman,  who  lived  to  a  very  advanced  age,  men- 
tioned it  as  one  of  the  most  memorable  events  of  his 
lite,  that  "  he  was  very  near  having  that  great  man  for 
his  scholar." 

He  remained  at  Stourbridge  little  more  than  a  year, 
and  then  he  returned  home,  where  he  may  be  said  to 
have  loitered,  for  two  years,  in  a  state  very  unworthy 
his  uncommon  abilities.  He  had  already  given  several 
proofs  of  his  poetical  genius,  both  in  his  school-exer- 
cises and  in  other  occasional  compositions.  Of  these  I 
have  obtained  a  considerable  collection,  by  the  favour 
of  Mr.  Wentworth,  son  of  one  of  his  masters,  and  of  Mr. 
Hector,  his  school-fellow  and  friend  ;  from  which  I  select 
the  following  specimens  : 

Translation  of  Virgil.     Pastoral  1. 


Now,  Tityrus,  you,  supine  and  careless  laid, 
Play  on  your  pipe  beneath  this  beechen  shade ; 
While  wretched  we  about  the  world  must  roam, 
And  leave  our  pleasing  fields  and  native  home, 
Here  at  your  ease  you  sing  your  amorous  flame, 
And  the  wood  rings  with  Amarillis'  name. 


Those  blessings,  friend,  a  deity  bestow'd, 
For  I  shall  never  think  him  less  than  God  ; 
Oft  on  his  altar  shall  my  firstlings  lie, 
Their  blood  the  consecrated  stones  shall  dye  : 
He  gave  my  flocks  to  graze  the  flowery  meads. 
And  me  to  tune  at  ease  th'  unequal  reeds. 

As  was  likewise  the  BishoD  of  Dromore  many  vears  afterwauk 

46  THE    LIFE    OF 


My  admiration  only  I  exprest, 
(No  spark  of  envy  harbours  in  my  breast) 
That,  when  confusion  o'er  the  country  reigns, 
To  you  alone  this  happy  state  remains. 
Here  I,  though  faint  myself,  must  drive  my  goats. 
Far  from  their  antient  fields  and  humble  cots. 
This  scarce  I  lead,  who  ieft  on  yonder  rock 
Two  tender  kids,  the  hopes  of  all  the  flock. 
Had  we  not  been  perverse  and  careless  grown, 
This  dire  event  by  omens  was  foreshown  ; 
Our  trees  were  blasted  by  the  thunder  stroke, 
And  left-hand  crows,  from  an  old  hollow  oak, 
Foretold  the  coming  evil  by  their  dismal  croak. 

Translation  of  Horace.  Book  I.  Ode  xxii. 

The  man,  my  friend,  whose  conscious  heart 
With  virtue's  sacred  ardour  glows, 

Nor  taints  with  death  the  envenom'd  dart, 
Nor  needs  the  guard  of  Moorish  bows  : 

Though  Scythia's  icy  cliffs  he  treads, 
Or  horrid  Africk's  faithless  sands  ; 

Or  where  the  fam'd  Hydaspes  spreads 
His  liquid  wealth  o'er  barbarous  lands. 

For  while  by  Chloe's  image  charm'd, 
Too  far  in  Sabine  woods  I  stray 'd  ; 

Me  singing,  careless  and  unarm'd, 
A  grizly  wolf  surprised,  and  fled. 

No  savage  more  portentous  stain'd 
Apulia's  spacious  wilds  with  gore  ; 

No  fiercer  Juba's  thirsty  land, 
Dire  nurse  of  raging  lions,  bore. 

Place  me  where  no  soft  summer  gale 
Among  the  quivering  branches  sighs ; 

Where  clouds  condens'd  for  ever  veil 
With  horrid  gloom  the  frowning  skies  : 


Place  me  beneath  the  burning  line, 

A  clime  deny'd  to  human  race  : 
I'll  sing  of  Chloe's  charms  divine, 

Her  heav'nly  voice,  and  beauteous  face. 

Translation  of  Horace.     Book  II.     Ode  ix. 

Clouds  do  not  always  veil  the  skies, 
Nor  showers  immerse  the  verdant  plain  : 

Nor  do  the  billows  always  rise, 
Or  storms  afflict  the  ruffled  main. 

Nor,  Valgius,  on  th'  Armenian  shores 
Do  the  chain'd  waters  always  freeze  ; 

Not  always  furious  Boreas  roars, 

Or  bends  with  violent  force  the  trees. 

But  you  are  ever  drown'd  in  tears, 
For  Mystes  dead  you  ever  mourn  ; 

No  setting  Sol  can  ease  vour  care, 
But  finds  you  sad  at  his  return. 

The  wise  experienc'd  Grecian  sage 
Mourn 'd  not  Antilochus  so  long  ; 

Nor  did  King  Priam's  hoary  age 

So  much  lament  his  slaughtered  son. 

Leave  off,  at  length,  these  woman's  sighs. 

Augustus'  numerous  trophies  sing  ; 
Repeat  that  prince's  victories, 

To  whom  all  nations  tribute  bring. 

Niphates  rolls  an  humbler  wave, 

At  length  the  undaunted  Scythian  yields. 
Content  to  live  the  Roman's  slave, 

And  scarce  forsakes  his  native  fields 

48  THE    LIFE    OF 

Translation  of  part  of  the  Dialogue  between  Hectol 
and  Andromache  ;  from  the  Sixth  Book  of  Ho- 
mer's Iliad. 

She  ceas'd  ;  then  godlike  Hector  answer d  kind. 
(His  various  plumage  sporting  in  the  wind) 
That  post,  and  all  the  rest,  shall  be  my  care  ; 
But  shall  I,  then,  forsake  the  unfinished  war  ? 
How  would  the  Trojans  brand  great  Hector's  name  ! 
And  one  base  action  sully  all  my  fame, 
Acquired  by  wounds  and  battles  bravely  fought  ! 
Oh  !  how  my  soul  abhors  so  mean  a  thought. 
Long  since  I  learn'd  to  slight  this  fleeting  breath. 
And  view  with  cheerful  eyes  approaching  death. 
The  inexorable  sisters  have  decreed 
That  Priam's  house,  and  Priam's  self  shall  bleed  : 
The  day  will  come,   in  which  proud    Troy  shall  yield. 
And  spread  its  smoking  ruins  o'er  the  field. 
Yet  Hecuba's,  nor  Priam's  hoary  age, 
Whose  blood  shall  quench  some  Grecian's  thirsty  rage- 
Nor  my  brave  brothers,  that  have  bit  the  ground, 
Their  souls  dismiss'd  through  many  a  ghastly  wound. 
Can  in  my  bosom  half  that  grief  create, 
As  the  sad  thought  of  your  impending  fate  : 
When  some  proud  Grecian  dame  shall  tasks  impose, 
Mimick  your  tears,  and  ridicule  your  woes  ; 
Beneath  Hyperia's  waters  shall  you  sweat, 
And,  fainting,  scarce  support  the  liquid  weight: 
Then  shall  some  Argive  loud  insulting  cry, 
Behold  the  wife  of  Hector,  guard  of  Troy  ! 
Tears,  at  my  name,  shall  drown  those  beauteous  eyes. 
And  that  fair  bosom  heave  with  rising  sighs  ! 
Before  that  day,  by  some  brave  hero's  hand 
May  I  lie  slain,  and  spurn  the  bloody  sand. 

To  a  Young  Lady  on  her  Birth-Day.* 

This  tributary  verse  receive  my  fair, 
Warm  with  an  ardent  lover's  fondest  pray'r. 
May  this  returning  day  for  ever  find 
Thy  form  more  lovely,  more  adorn'd  thy  mind  ; 

*  Mr.  Hector  informs  me,  that  this  was  made  almost  impromptu,  in  his  presence. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  49 

All  pains,  all  cares,  may  favouring  heavYi  remove, 
All  but  the  sweet  solicitudes  of  love  ! 
May  powerful  nature  join  with  grateful  art, 
To  point  each  glance,  and  force  it  to  the  heart  ! 
O  then,  when  conquered  crouds  confess  thy  sway. 
When  ev'n  proud  wealth  and  prouder  wit  obe\ . 
My  fair,  be  mindful  of  the  mighty  trust, 
Alas  !  'tis  hard  for  beautv  to  be  just. 
Those  sovereign  charms  with  strictest  care  employ  ; 
Nor  give  the  generous  pain,  the  worthless  joy  : 
With  his  own  form  acquaint  the  forward  tool, 
Shewn  in  the  faithful  glass  of  ridicule  ; 
Teach  mimick  censure  her  own  faults  to  find, 
No  more  let  coquettes  to  themselves  be  blind, 
So  shall  Belinda's  charms  improve  mankind. 

The  Young  Author.5 

When  first  the  peasant,  long  inclin'd  to  roam. 
Forsakes  his  rural  sports  and  peaceful  home, 
Pleas'd  with  the  scene  the  smiling  ocean  \  ields, 
He  scorns  the  verdant  meads  and  tlow'ry  fields  ; 
Then  dances  jocund  o'er  the  watery  way, 
While  the  breeze  whispers,  and  the  streamers  play  : 
Unbounded  prospects  in  his  bosom  roll, 
And  future  millions  lift  his  rising  soul ; 
In  blissful  dreams  he  digs  the  golden  mine, 
And  raptur'd  sees  the  new-found  ruby  shine. 
Joys  insincere  !  thick  clouds  invade  the  skies, 
Loud  roar  the  billows,  high  the  waves  arise  ; 
Sick'ning  with  fear,  he  longs  to  view  the  shore. 
And  vows  to  trust  the  faithless  deep  no  more. 
So  the  young  Author,  panting  after  fame, 
And  the  long  honours  of  a  lasting  name, 
Entrusts  his  happiness  to  human  kind, 
More  false,  more  cruel,  than  the  seas  or  wind. 
i4  Toil  on,  dull  croud,  in  extacies  he  cries, 
For  wealth  or  title,  perishable  prize  ; 
While  I  those  transitorv  blessings  scorn, 
Secure  of  praise  from  ages  yet  unborn." 

1  This  he  inserted,  with  many  alteration1!,  in  the  Gentleman'*  Magazine,  17  I 

vol.  r.  7 

$4  THE    LIFE    OF 

This  thought  once  form'd,  all  council  comes  too  late* 
He  flies  to  press,  and  hurries  on  his  fate  ; 
Swiftly  he  sees  the  imagin'd  laurels  spread, 
And  feels  the  unfading-  wreath  surround  his  head. 
Warn'd  by  another's  fate,  vain  youth  be  wise, 
Those  dreams  were  Settle's  once,  and  Ogilby's  : 
The  pamphlet  spreads,  incessant  hisses  rise, 
To  some  retreat  the  baffled  writer  flies  ; 
Where  no  sour  criticks  snarl,  no  sneers  molest, 
Safe  from  the  tart  lampoon,  and  stinging  jest ; 
There  begs  of  heaven  a  less  distinguished  lot, 
Glad  to  be  hid,  and  proud  to  be  forgot. 

Epilogue,  intended  to  have  been  spoken  by  a  Lady  whv 
was  to  personate  the  Ghost  g/Hermione.6 

Ye  blooming  train,  who  give  despair  or  joy, 
Bless  with  a  smile,  or  with  a  frown  destroy  ; 
In  whose  fair  cheeks  destructive  Cupids  wait, 
And  with  unerring  shafts  distribute  fate ; 
Whose  snowy  breasts,  whose  animated  eyes, 
Each  youth  admires,  though  each  admirer  dies  ; 
Whilst  you  deride  their  pangs  in  barb'rous  play, 
Unpitying  see  them  weep,  and  hear  them  pray, 
And  unrelenting  sport  ten  thousand  lives  away  ; 
For  you,  ye  fair,  I  quit  the  gloomy  plains  ; 
Where  sable  night  in  all  her  horrour  reigns  ; 
No  fragrant  bowers,  no  delightful  glades, 
Receive  the  unhappy  ghosts  of  scornful  maids. 
For  kind,  for  tender  nymphs  the  myrtle  blooms, 
And  weaves  her  bending  boughs  in  pleasing  glooms  : 
Perennial  roses  deck  each  purple  vale, 
And  scents  ambrosial  breathe  in  every  gale  : 
Far  hence  are  banish'd  vapours,  spleen,  and  tears. 
Tea,  scandal,  ivory  teeth,  and  languid  airs  : 
No  pug,  nor  favourite  Cupid  there  enjoys 
The  balmy  kiss,  for  which  poor  Thyrsis  dies  ; 
Form'd  to  delight,  they  use  no  foreign  arms, 
Nor  torturing  whalebones  pinch  them  into  charms  ; 

''  Some   young  ladies  at    Lichfield  having  proposed  to   act  "  The  Distressed 
Mother,"  Johnson  wrote  this,  and  gave  it  to  Mr.  Hector  to  convey  it  privately  to 



No  conscious  blushes  there  their  cheeks  inflame,  >T 

For  those  who  feel  no  guilt  can  know   no  shame  ;  £tat 

Unfaded  still  their  former  charms  they  shew,  \q 

Around  them  pleasures  wait,  and  joys  tor  ever  new. 

But  cruel  virgins  meet  severer  fates  ; 

Expell'd  and  exil'd  from  the  blissful  scats, 

To  dismal  realms,  and  regions  void  of  peace, 

\\  here  furies  ever  howl,  and  serpents  hiss. 

O'er  the  sad  plains  perpetual  tempests  si^h, 

And  pois'nous  vapours,  black'ning  all  the  sk) . 

With  livid  hue  the  fairest  face  oVrcast, 

And  every  beautv  withers  at  the  blast : 

Where'er  they  fly  their  lovers' ghosts  pursue, 

Inflicting  all  those  ills  which  once  they  knew  ; 

Vexation,  Fury,  Jealousy,  Despair, 

Vex  ev'ry  eye,  and  every  bosom  tear  ; 

Their  foul  deformities  by  all  descry 'd, 

No  maid  to  flatter,  and  no  paint  to  hide. 

Then  melt,  ye  fair,  while  clouds  around  you  sigh. 

Nor  let  disdain  sit  louring  in  your  eye  ; 

With  pity  soften  every  awful  grace, 

And  beauty  smile  auspicious  in  each  {ace  ; 

To  ease  their  pains  exert  your  milder  power, 

So  shall  you  guiltless  reign,  and  all  mankind  adore. 

The  two  years  which  he  spent  at  home,  after  his  re- 
turn from  Stourbridge,  he  passed  in  what  he  thought 
idleness,  and  was  scolded  by  his  father  for  Ins  want  of 
steady  application.  Me  had  no  settled  plan  of  lite,  nor 
looked  forward  at  all,  but  merelv  lived  from  day  to  day. 
Yet  he  read  a  great  deal  in  a  desultory  manner,  with- 
out  any  scheme  of  study,  as  chance  threw  books  in  his 
way,  and  inclination  directed  him  through  them,  lie 
used  to  mention  one  curious  instance  of  his  casual 
reading,  when  but  a  boy.  Having  imagined  thai  ins 
brother  had  hid  some  apples  behind  a  large  folio  upon 
an  upper  shelf  in  his  father's  shop,  he  climbed  up  to 
search  for  them.  There  were  no  apples  ;  but  the  huge 
folio  proved  to  be  Fetrarch,  whom  he  had  seen  men- 
tioned, in  some  preface,  as  one  of  the  restorers  of  learn- 
ing.    His  curiosity  having  been  thus  excited,  he  sai 

52  THE    LIFE    OF 

1728.  down  with  avidity,  and  read  a  great  part  of  the  book. 

iEtaT.  ^  nat  ne  reac'  during  these  two  years,  he  told  me,  was 
19.  not  works  of  mere  amusement,  "  not  voyages  and  trav- 
els, but  all  literature,  Sir,  all  ancient  writers,  all  manly  : 
though  but  little  Greek,  only  some  of  Anacreon  and 
liesiod  :  but  in  this  irregular  manner  (added  he)  I  had 
looked  into  a  great  many  books,  which  were  not  com- 
monly known  at  the  Universities,  where  they  seldom 
read  any  books  but  what  are  put  into  their  hands  by 
their  tutors  ;  so  that  when  1  came  to  Oxford,  Dr. 
Adams,  now  master  of  Pembroke  College,  told  me,  1 
was  the  best  qualified  for  the  University  that  he  had 
ever  known  come  there." 

In  estimating  the  progress  of  his  mind  during  these 
two  years,  as  well  as  in  future  periods  of  his  life,  we 
must  not  regard  his  own  hastv  confession  of  idleness  ; 
for  we  see,  when  he  explains  himself,  that  he  was  ac- 
quiring various  stores  ;  and,  indeed  he  himself  con- 
cluded the  account,  with  saying,  "  I  would  not  have 
you  think  1  was  doing  nothing  then."  He  might, 
perhaps,  have  studied  more  assiduously  ;  but  it  may 
be  doubted,  whether  such  a  mind  as  his  was  not  more 
enriched  by  roaming  at  large  in  the  fields  of  literature, 
than  if  it  had  been  confined  to  any  single  spot.  The 
analogy  between  body  and  mind  is  very  general,  and 
the  parallel  will  hold  as  to  their  food,  as  well  as  any 
other  particular.  The  flesh  of  animals  who  feed  ex- 
cursively, is  allowed  to  have  a  higher  flavour  than  that 
of  those  who  are  cooped  up.  May  there  not  be  the 
same  difference  between  men  who  read  as  their  taste 
prompts,  and  men  who  are  confined  in  cells  and  col- 
leges to  stated  tasks  ! 

1  hat  a  man  in  Mr.  Michael  Johnson's  circum- 
stances should  think  of  sending  his  son  to  the  expen- 
sive University  of  Oxford,  at  his  own  charge,  seems 
very  improbable.  The  subject  was  too  delicate  to 
question  Johnson  upon  :  but  1  have  been  assured  by 
Dr.  Taylor,  that  the  scheme  never  would  have  taken 
place,  had  not  a  gentleman  of  Shropshire,  one  of  his 
school-fellows,  spontaneously  undertaken  to  support 
him  at  Oxford,  in  the  character  of  his  companion  : 

DR.    JOHNSON.  53 

though,  in  fact,  he  never  received  any  assistance  what-  1748. 
ever  from  that  gentleman.  feu*. 

He,  however,  went  to  Oxford,  and   was  entered  a    19. 
Commoner  of  Pembroke  College,  on  the   31st  <>t  Oc- 
tober, 1728,  being  then  in  his  nineteenth  year. 

The  Reverend  Dr.  Adams,  who  afterwards  presided 
over  Pembroke  College  with  universal  esteem,  told 
me  he  was  present,  and  gave  me  some  account  of  what 
passed  on  the  night  of  Johnson's  arrival  at  Oxford. 
On  that  evening,  his  father,  who  had  anxiously  accom- 
panied him,  found  means  to  have  him  introduced  to 
Mr.  Jorden,  who  was  to  be  his  tutor.  His  being  put 
under  any  tutor,  reminds  us  of  what  Wood  says  of  Ro- 
bert Burton,  authour  of  the  "  Anatomy  of  Melancho- 
ly," when  elected  student  of  Christ  Church  ;  *;  for 
form's  sake,  though  he  wanted  not  a  tutor,  he  was  put 
under  the  tuition  of  Dr.  John  Bancroft,  afterwards 
Bishop  of  Oxon."7 

His  father  seemed  very  full  of  the  merits  of  his  son, 
and  told  the  company  he  was  a  good  scholar,  and  a 
poet,  and  wrote  Latin  verses.  His  figure  and  manner 
appeared  strange  to  them  ;  but  he  behaved  modestly, 
and  sat  silent,  till  upon  something  which  occurred  in 
the  course  of  conversation,  he  suddenly  struck  in  and 
quoted  Macrobius  ;  and  thus  he  gave  the  first  impres- 
sion of  that  more  extensive  reading  in  which  he  had 
indulged  himself. 

His  tutor,  Mr.  Jorden,  fellow  of  Pembroke,  was  not, 
it  seems,  a  man  of  such  abilities  as  we  should  conceive 
requisite  for  the  instructor  of  Samuel  Johnson,  who 
gave  me  the  following  account  of  him.  "  He  was  a 
very  worthy  man,  but  a  heavy  man,  and  1  did  not 
profit  much  by  his  instructions.  Indeed,  I  did  not 
attend  him  much.  The  first  day  after  1  came  to  col- 
lege, 1  waited  upon  him,  and  then  staid  away  four. 
On  the  sixth,  Mr.  Jorden  asked  me  why  1  had  not 
attended.  1  answered.  I  had  been  sliding  in  Christ 
Church  meadow.  And  this  1  said  with  as  much  non- 
chalance as  I  am  now3  talking  to  you.     1  had  no  no- 

•  Athen.  Oxon.  edit.  1721,  i.  627. 
8  Oxford,  20th  March,  1776; 

THE    LIFE    OF 

tion  that  I  was  wrong  or  irreverent  to  my  tutor."  Bos- 
well.  "  That,  Sir,  was  great  foritude  of  mind." 
Johnson.     "  No,  Sir  ;  stark  insensibility."9 

The  fifth  of  November  was  at  that  time  kept  with 
great  solemnity  at  Pembroke  College,  and  exercises 
upon  the  subject  of  the  day  were  required.  Johnson 
neglected  to  perform  his,  which  is  much  to  be  regret- 
ted ;  for  his  vivacity  of  imagination,  and  force  of  lan- 
guage, would  probably  have  produced  something  sub- 
lime upon  the  gunpowder  plot.  To  apologise  for  his 
neglect,  he  gave  in  a  short  copy  of  verses,  in  titled 
Somnium,  containing  a  common  thought  ;  "  that  the 
Muse  had  come  to  him  in  his  sleep,  and  whispered, 
that  it  did  not  become  him  to  write  on  such  subjects 
as  politicks  ;  he  should  confine  himself  to  humbler 
themes  :"  but  the  versification  was  truly  V  irgilian. 

He  had  a  love  and  respect  for  Jorden,  not  for  his 
literature,  but  for  his  worth.  "  Whenever  (said  he)  a 
young  man  becomes  Jorden's  pupil,  he  becomes  his 

Having  given  such  a  specimen  of  his  poetical  powers. 
he  was  asked  by  Mr.  Jorden,  to  translate  Pope's  Mes- 
siah into  Latin  verse,  as  a  Christmas  exercise.  He  per- 
formed it  with  uncommon  rapidity,  and  in  so  masterly 
a  manner,  that  he  obtained  great  applause  from  it,  which 
ever  after  kept  him  high  in  the  estimation  of  his  Col- 
lege, and,  indeed,  of  all  the  University. 

It  is  said,  that  Mr.  Pope  expressed  himself  concern- 
ing it  in  terms  of  strong  approbation.  Dr.  Taylor  told 
me,  that  it  was  first  printed  for  old  Mr.  Johnson,  with- 
out the  knowledge  of  his  son,  who  was  very  angry 
when  he  heard  of  it.  A  Miscellany  of  Poems  collect- 
ed by  a  person  of  the  name  of  Husbands,  was  publish- 
ed at  Oxford  in  1731.  In  that  Miscellany  Johnson's 
Translation  of  the  Messiah  appeared,  with  this  modest 
motto  from  Scaliger's  Poeticks,  "  Ex  alieuo  ingeriio  Po- 
eta,  ex  suo  tantum  versificator." 

9  It  ought  to  be  remembered,  that  Dr.  Johnson  was  apt,  in  his  literary  as  well 
as  moral  exercises,  to  overcharge  his  defects.  Dr.  Adams  informed  me,  that  he 
attended  his  tutor's  lectures,  an.d  also  die  lectures  in  the  College  Hall,  very  reg- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  55 

1  am  not  ignorant  that  critical  objections  have  been  1728. 
made  to  this  and  other  specimens  of  Johnson's  Latin  jg^J 
Poetry.     I  acknowledge  myself  not  competent  to  de-    19. 
cide  on  a  question  of  such  extreme  nicety.      But  1  am 
satisfied  with  the  just  and  discriminative  eulogy  pro- 
nounced upon  it  by  my  friend  Air.  (Jourtenux 

■•  And  with  like  ease  his  vivid  lines  assume 

"  The  garb  and  dignity  of  ancient  Home. — 

"   Let  college  verse-men  trite  conceits  express, 

"  Trick'd  out  in  splendid  shreds  of  Virgil's  dress  ; 

••  From  playful  Ovid  cull  the  tinsel  phrase, 

"  And  vapid  notions  hitch  in  pilfer'd  lays  ; 

"  Then  with  mosaic  art  the  piece  combine, 

"  And  boast  the  glitter  of  each  dulcet  line  : 

"  Johnson  adventur'd  boldly  to  transfuse 

"  His  vigorous  sense  into  the  Latin  muse  ; 

"   Aspir'd  to  shine  by  unreflected  light, 

"  And  with  a  Roman's  ardour  think  and  write. 

"  lie  felt  the  tuneful  Nine  his  breast  inspire, 

"  And,  like  a  master,  wak'd  the  soothing  lvre  : 

"   iioratian  strains  a  grateful  heart  proclaim, 

"  While  Sky's  wild  rocks  resound  his  Thralia's  name. 

"  Hesperia's  plant,  in  some  less  skilful  hands, 

"    To  bloom  a  while,  factitious  heat  demands  : 

•'  Though  glowing  Maro  a  faint  warmth  supplies, 

"  The  sickly  blossom  in  the  hot-house  dies  : 

'-*  By  Johnson's  genial  culture,  art,  and  toil, 

"  Its  root  strikes  deep,  and  owns  the  fost'ring  soil  « 

••  Imbibes  our  sun  through  all  its  swelling  veins, 

"  And  grows  a  native  of  Britannia's  plains."1 

The  "  morbid  melancholy,"  which  was  lurking  in  his 
constitution,  and  to  which  we  may  ascribe  those  partic- 
ularities, and  that  aversion  to  regular  life,  which,  at  a 
very  earlv  period  marked  his  character,  gathered  such 
strength  in  his  twentieth  year,  as  to  afflict  him  in  a 
dreadful  manner.  While  he  was  at  Lichfield,  in  the 
college  vacation  of  the  year  1729,  he  felt  himself  over- 

1  Poetical  Review  of  the  Literary  and  Moral  Character  o<"  Dr.   Johnson,  bv 
J»ha  Courtenay,  Esq.  M.  P. 

5b  THE    LIFE    OF 

1728.  whelmed  with  an  horrible  hypochondria,  with  perpet- 
ual irritation,  fretfulness,  and  impatience  ;  and  with 
a  dejection,  gloom,  and  despair,  which  made  existence 
misery.  From  this  dismal  malady  he  never  afterwards 
was  perfectly  relieved  ;  and  all  his  labours,  and  all  his 
enjoyments,  were  but  temporary  interruptions  of  its 
baleful  influence.  How  wonderful,  how  unsearchable 
are  the  ways  of  God  !  Johnson,  who  was  blest  with  all 
the  powers  of  genius  and  understanding  in  a  degree  far 
above  the  .ordinary  state  of  human  nature,  was  at  the 
same  time  visited  with  a  disorder  so  afflictive,  that  they 
who  know  it  by  dire  experience,  will  not  envy  his  exalt- 
ed endowments.  That  it  was,  in  some  degree,  occa- 
sioned by  a  defect  in  his  nervous  system,  that  inexpli- 
cable part  of  our  frame,  appears  highly  probable.  He 
told  Mr.  Paradise  that  he  was  sometimes  so  languid 
and  inefficient,  that  he  could  not  distinguish  the  hour 
upon  the  town-clock. 

Johnson,  upon  the  first  violent  attack  of  this  disor- 
der, strove  to  overcome  it  by  forcible  exertions.  He 
frequently  walked  to  Birmingham  and  back  again,  and 
tried  many  other  expedients,  but  all  in  vain.  His  ex- 
pression concerning  it  to  me  was  "  I  did  not  then  know 
how  to  manage  it."  His  distress  became  so  intolerable, 
that  he  applied  to  Dr.  Swinfen,  physician  in  Lichfield, 
his  god-father,  and  put  into  his  hands  a  state  of  his 
case,  written  in  Latin.  Dr.  Swinfen  was  so  much 
struck  with  the  extraordinary  acuteness,  research,  and 
eloquence  of  this  paper,  that  in  his  zeal  for  his  god-son 
he  shewed  it  to  several  people.  His  daughter,  Mrs. 
Desmoulins,  who  was  many  years  humanely  supported 
in  Dr.  Johnson's  house  in  London,  told  me,  that  upon 
his  discovering  that  Dr.  Swinfen  had  communicated  his 
case,  he  was  so  much  offended,  that  he  was  never  after- 
wards fully  reconciled  to  him.  He  indeed  had  good 
reason  to  be  offended ;  for  though  Dr.  Swinfen's  mo- 
tive was  good,  he  inconsiderately  betrayed  a  matter 
deeply  interesting  and  of  great  delicacy,  which  had  been 
entrusted  to  him  in  confidence  :  and  exposed  a  com- 
plaint of  his  young  friend  and  patient,  which  in  the 

DR.    JOHNSON*.  5", 

superficial  opinion  of  the  generality  of  mankind,  is  at-  *729« 
Sendee!  with  contempt  and  disgrace.  iEtat. 

But  let  not  little  men   triumph   upon  knowing   that    20. 
Johnson   was  an  Hypochondriack,    was  subject   to 

what  the  learned,  philosophical,  and  pious  Dr.  Cheyne 
has  so  well  treated   under  the  title  of"    The    English 
Malady."     Though   he  suffered  severely  from   it.   he 
was  not  therefore  degraded.     The  powers  of  his  great 
mind  might  be  troubled,  and   their  full   exercise  sus- 
pended  at  times  ;  but  the  mind  itself  was  ever  entire. 
As  a  proof  of  this,  it  is  only  necessary  to  consider,  that, 
when  he  was  at  the  very  worst,  he  composed  that  state 
of  his  own  case,  which   shewed  an  uncommon  vigour, 
not  only  of  fancy  and  taste,  but  of  judgement.     I  am 
aware   that   he  himself  was  too   ready  to  call   such   a 
complaint  by   the   name  of  madness  ;    in   conformity 
with   which  notion,   he  has   traced  its  gradations,  with 
exquisite   nicety,  in  one  of  the  chapters  of  his  Rasse- 
las.     But  there  is  surely  a  clear  distinction  between  a 
disorder  which   affects  only  the  imagination   and  spir- 
its,  while  the  judgement  is  sound,  and  a  disorder  by 
which  the  judgement  itself  is  impaired.      This  distinc- 
tion was  made  to  me  by  the  late  Professor  Gaubius  of 
Leyclen,  physician  to  the  Prince  of  Orange,  in  a  con- 
versation which   L  had  with  him  several  years  ago,  and 
he  expanded   it  thus  :  "  If  (said    he)   a  man   tells  me 
that  he  is  grievously  disturbed,  for  that  he  imagines  he 
sees  a  ruffian  coming  against  him  with  a  drawn  sword, 
though   at  the   same  time  he  is   conscious  it  is  a  delu- 
sion, I  pronounce   him  to  have  a  disordered   imagina- 
tion ;  but  if  a  man  tells  me  that  he  sees  this,  and  in 
consternation  calls  to  me  to  look  at  it.  I  pronounce  him. 
to  be  mad." 

It  is  a  common  effect  of  low  spirits  or  melancholy,  to 
make  those  Avho  are  afflicted  with  it  imagine  that  the) 
are  actually  suffering  those  evils  which  happen  to  be 
most  strongly  presented  to  their  minds.  Some  have 
fancied  themselves  to  be  deprived  of  the  use  of  their 
limbs,  some  to  labour  under  acute  diseases,  others  to 
be  in  extreme  poverty  :  when,  in  truth,  there  was  nol 
the  least  reality   in  any  o^  the  suppositions  :  «*o  that 

VOL.    I  8 

JS  THE    LIFE    OB 

3729.  when  the  vapours  were  dispelled,  they  were  convinced 
jg^of  the  delusion.  To  Johnson,  whose  supreme  enjoy- 
20€  ment  was  the  exercise  of  his  reason,  the  disturbance 
or  obscuration  of  that  faculty  was  the  evil  most  to  be 
dreaded.  Insanity,  therefore,  was  the  object  of  his 
most  dismal  apprehension  ;  and  he  fancied  himself 
seized  by  it,  or  approaching  to  it,  at  the  very  time 
when  he  was  giving  proofs  of  a  more  than  ordinary 
soundness  and  vigour  of  judgement.  That  his  own  dis- 
eased imagination  should  have  so  far  deceived  him,  is 
strange  ;  but  it  is  stranger  still  that  some  of  his  friends 
should  have  given  credit  to  his  groundless  opinion, 
when  they  had  such  undoubted  proofs  that  it  was  to- 
tally fallacious  ;  though  it  is  by  no  means  surprising 
that  those  who  wish  to  depreciate  him,  should,  since 
his  death,  have  laid  hold  of  this  circumstance,  and  in- 
sisted upon  it  with  very  unfair  aggravation. 

Amidst  the  oppression  and  distraction  of  a  disease 
which  very  few  have  felt  in  its  full  extent,  but  many 
have  experienced  in  a  slighter  degree,  .Johnson,  in  his 
writings,  and  in  his  conversation,  never  failed  to  dis- 
play all  the  varieties  of  intellectual  excellence.  In  his 
march  through  this  world  to  a  better,  his  mind  still  ap- 
peared grand  and  brilliant,  and  impressed  all  around 
him  with  the  truth  of  Virgil's  noble  sentiment — 


"  Igneus  est  ollis  vigor  et  coo lest is  origo" 

The  history  of  his  mind  as  to  religion  is  an  impor- 
tant article.  I  have  mentioned  the  early  impressions 
made  upon  his  tender  imagination  by  his  mother,  who 
continued  her  pious  cares  with  assiduity,  but,  in  his 
opinion,  not  with  judgement,  "  Sunday  (said  he)  was 
a  heavy  day  to  me  when  I  was  a  boy.  My  mother 
confined  me  on  that  day,  and  made  me  read  '  The 
Whole  Duty  of  Man,'  from  a  great  part  of  which  I 
could  derive  no  instruction.  When,  for  instance,  I  had 
read  the  chapter  on  theft,  which  from  my  infancy  I  had 
been  taught  was  wrong,  1  was  no  more  convinced  that 
theft  was  wrong  than  before  ;  so  there  was  no  accession 
of  knowledge.     A  boy  should  be  introduced  to  such 


books,  by  having  his  attention  directed  to  the  arrange-  i73ft. 
incut,  to  the  style,  and  other  exc<  llencies  of  composi-  ]gt^{ 
tion  ;  that  the  mind  being  thus  engaged  by  an  amusing   _><>. 
variety  of  objects  may  not  grow  weary." 

lie  communicated  to  me  the  following  particular^ 
upon  ilk'  subject  of  his  religious  progress.  "  1  till  into 
an  inattention  to  religion,  or  an  indifference  about  it, 
in  my  ninth  year.  The  church  at  Lichfield,  in  which 
Me  had  a  seat,  wanted  reparation,  so  1  was  to  go  arid 
find  a  seat  in  other  churches;  and  having  had  eyes, 
and  being  awkward  about  this,  1  used  to  go  and  read 
in  the  fields  on  Sunday.  This  habit  continued  till  no 
fourteenth  year ;  and  still  I  find  a  meat  reluctance  to 
go  to  church.  1  then  became  a  sort  of  lax  talker  against 
religion,  for  1  did  not  much  think-  against  it;  and  this 
lasted  till  1  went  to  Oxford,  where  it  would  not  be  suf- 
fered. When  at  Oxford,  1  took  up  "  Law's  Serious 
Call  to  a  Holy  Life,"  expecting  to  find  it  a  dull  book, 
(as  such  books  generally  are,)  and  perhaps  to  laugh  at 
it.  But  I  found  Law  quite  an  overmatch  for  me  ;  and 
this  was  the  first  occasion  of  my  thinking  in  earnest  of 
religion,  after  1  became  capable  of  rational  enquiry." 

2  Mrs.   Piozzi  has  given  a  strange  fantastical   account  of  the  original  of  Dr. 
Johnson's  belief  in  our  most  holy  religion.     "  At  the  age  of  ten  years  his  mind  was 
disturbed  by  scruples  of  infidelity,  which  preyed  upon  his  spirits,  and  made  him 
very  uneasy,   the  more  so,  as  he  revealed  his  uneasiness  to  none,  being  naturally, 
(as  he  said)  of  a  sullen  temper,  and  reserved  disposition.     He  searched,  however, 
diligently,  but  fruitlessly,  for  evidences  of  the  truth  of  revelation  ;  and,  at  length, 
recollecting  a.   book  he  had  once   seen   [I  suppose  at  five  years  old]  in  his  father's  shop, 
intitled  De  iieritate  Religionis,  &c.  he  began  to  think  himself  highly  culpable  for  neg- 
lecting such  a  means  of  information,  and  took  himself  se\  erely  to  task  for  this  sin, 
adding  many  acts  of  voluntary,  and,  to  others,  unknown  penance.     The  first  oppor- 
tunity which  offered,  of  course,  he  seized  the  book  with  avidity  ;  but,  on  examine 
ation,  not  finding  himself  sch  lar  enough  to  peruse  its  contents,  set  his  hean  at  rc^t  :    ; 
not  thinkino-  to  enquire  whether  there  were  any  English  books  written  on  the  sub- 
ject, followed  his  usual  amusements  and  considered  his  conscience  ai  lighter 
He  redoubled  his  diligence  to  learn  the  language  that  contained  the  information 
he  most  wished  for  ;  but  from  the  pain  which  guilt    [namely  having  emitted  to  i 
what  he  did  not  understand]  had  given   him,  he  now  began  to  deduce  the  soul's  i 
mortality,  [a  sensation  of  pain  in  this  world  being  an  unquestionable  proof  of  exist 
another]  which  was  the  point  that  belief  first  stopped  at  ;  and  from  that  moment   re- 
viving to  be  a  Christian,  became  one  of  the  most  zealous  and  pious  ones  our  na;i 
ever  produced."     Anecdotes,  p.  17. 

This  is  one  of  the  numerous  misrepresentations  of  this  lively  la  '\ ,   which 
worth  while  to  correct  ;  for  if  credit  should  be  given  to  such  a  childish,  irration- 
al, and  ridiculous  statement  of  the  foundation  of  Dr.  Johnson's  faith  in  Christiani- 
ty, how  little   credit  would  be   due  to   it.     Mrs.    Piozzi   seems  to  wish,   that  . 
world  should  think  Dr.  Johnson  also  under  the  influence  of  that  easy  logick,  ! 
pra  ratione  •voluntas. 

60  THE    LIFE    OP 

17^9-  From  this  time  forward  religion  was  the  predominant 

jEt^  object  of  his  thoughts;  though,   with   the  just  senti- 

20.    ments  of  a  conscientious  christian,  he  lamented  that 

his  practice  of  its  duties  fell  far  short  of  what  it  ought 

to  be. 

This  instance  of  a  mind  such  as  that  of  Johnson 
being  first  disposed,  by  an  unexpected  incident,  to 
think  with  anxiety  of  the  momentous  concerns  of  eter- 
nity,  and  of  "  what  he  should  do  to  be  saved,"  may 
for  ever  be  produced  in  opposition  to  the  superficial 
and  sometimes  profane  contempt  that  has  been  thrown 
upon  those  occasional  impressions  which  it  is  certain 
many  christians  have  experienced  ;  though  it  must  be 
acknowledged  that  weak  minds,  from  an  erroneous 
supposition  that  no  man  is  in  a  state  of  grace  who  has 
not  felt  a  particular  conversion,  have,  in  some  cases, 
brought  a  degree  of  ridicule  upon  them  ;  a  ridicule,  of 
which  it  is  inconsiderate  or  unfair  to  make  a  general 

How  seriously  Johnson  was  impressed  with  a  sense 
of  religion,  even  in  the  vigour  of  his  youth,  appears  from 
the  following  passage  in  his  minutes,  kept  by  way  of 
diary  :  Sept.  7,  1736.  1  have  this  day  entered  upon  my 
28th  year.  "  Mayest  thou,  O  God,  enable  me,  for  Je- 
sus Christ's  sake,  to  spend  this  in  such  a  manner, 
that  L  may  receive  comfort  from  it  at  the  hour  of  death, 
and  in  the  day  of  judgement !     Amen." 

The  particular  course  of  his  reading  while  at  Oxford, 
and  during  the  time  of  vacation  which  he  passed  at 
home,  cannot  be  traced.  Enough  has  been  said  of  his 
irregular  mode  of  study.  He  told  me,  that  from  his 
earliest  years  he  loved  to  read  poetry,  but  hardly  ever 
read  any  poem  to  an  end  ;  that  he  read  Shakspeare  at 
a  period  so  early,  that  the  speech  of  the  Ghost  in  Ham- 
let terrified  him  when  he  was  alone  ;  that  Horace's 
Odes  were  the  compositions  in  which  he  took  most  de- 
light, and  it  was  long  before  he  liked  his  Epistles  and 
Satires.  He  told  me  what  he  read  solidly  at  Oxford 
was  Greek  ;  not  the  Grecian  historians,  but  Homer  and 
Euripides,  and  now  and  then  a  little  Epigram  ;  that  the 
study  of  which  he  was  the  most  fond  was  Metaphys^ 

DR.    JOHNSON.  61 

icks,  but  he  had  not  read  much,  even  in  thai  way.  I  1729. 
always  thought  that  he  did  himself  injustice  111  his  ac-  aT'^ 
count  of  what  he  had  read,  and  that  he  must  have  been  20. 
speaking  with  reference  to  the  vast  portion  «i  study 
which  is  possible,  and  to  which  a  few  scholars  in  the 
whole  history  of  literature  have  attained:  for  when  1 
once  asked  him  whether  a  person  whose  name  I  have 
now  forgotten,  studied  hard,  he  answered  w-  No,  Sir.  1 
do  not  believe  he  studied  hard.  1  never  knew  a  man 
who  studied  hard.  1  conclude,  indeed,  from  the  effect 
that  some  men  have  studied  hard,  as  Bentley  and 
l  'iarke."  Trying  him  by  that  criterion  upon  which  he 
formed  his  judgement  of  others,  we  may  be  absolutely 
certain,  both  from  his  writings  and  his  conversation, 
that  his  reading  was  very  extensive.  Dr.  Adam  Smith, 
than  whom  few  were  better  judges  on  this  subject,  once 
observed  to  me,  that  "  Johnson  knew  more  book--  than 
any  man  alive."  He  had  a  peculiar  facility  in  seizing 
at  once  what  was  valuable  in  anv  book,  without  sub- 
mitting  to  the  labour  of  perusing  it  from  beginning  to 
end.  He  had,  from  the  irritability  of  his  constitution, 
at  all  times,  an  impatience  and  hurry  when  he  cither 
read  or  wrote.  A  certain  apprehension  arising  from 
novelty,  made  him  write  his  first  exercise  at  College 
twice  over  ;  but  he  never  took  that  trouble  with  any 
other  composition  ;  and  we  shall  see  that  his  most  ex- 
cellent works  were  struck  off  at  a  heat,  with  rapid  ex- 

Yet  he  appears,  from  his  early  notes  or  memoran- 
dums in  my  possession,  to  have  at  various  times  at- 
tempted, or  at  least  planned,  a  methodical  course  of 
study,  according  to  computation,  of  which  he  was  all 
his  life  fond,  as  it  fixed  his  attention  steadily  upon 
something  without,  and  prevented  his  mind  from  prey- 
ing upon  itself.  Thus  i  find  in  his  hand-writing  the 
number  of  lines  in  each  of  two  of  Euripides's  Tragedies, 
of  the   Georgicks  of   Virgii,    of  the   first    vix   books 

1  [He  told  Dr.  Burney,  that  he  never  wrote  any  of  his  works  that  were  print- 
ed, twice  over.  Dr.  Burney 's  wonder  at  seeing  several  pages  of  his  "  Lives  of 
the  Poets,"  in  Manuscript,  with  ecarcc  a  blot  or  erasure,  drew  this  observation 
from  him.   M.] 

6%  THE    LIFE    OF 

17?9.  of  the  yEneid,  of  Horace's  Art  of  Poetry,  of  three  of 

jEt'jJJ'  the  books  of  Ovid's  Metamorphosis,  of  some  parts  of 

20.    Theocritus,  and  of  the  tenth  Satire  of  Juvenal ;  and  a 

table,  showing  at  the  rate  of  various  numbers  a  day,  (I 

suppose  verses  to  be  read,)  what  would  be,  in  each  case, 

the  total  amount  in  a  week,  month,  and  year. 

No  man  had  a  more  ardent  love  of  literature,  or  a 
higher  respect  for  it,  than  Johnson.  His  apartment  in 
Pembroke  College  was  that  upon  the  second  floor  over 
the  gateway.  The  enthusiast  of  learning  will  ever  con- 
template it  with  veneration.  One  day,  while  he  w7as 
sitting  in  it  quite  alone,  Dr.  Panting,  then  master  of 
the  College,  whom  he  called  "  a  fine  Jacobite  fellow," 
overheard  him  uttering  this  soliloquy  in  his  strong  em- 
phatick  voice  :  "  Well,  1  have  a  mind  to  see  what  is 
done  in  other  places  of  learning.  I'll  go  and  visit  the 
Universities  abroad.  I'll  go  to  France  and  Italy.  I'll 
go  to  Padua. — And  Pll  mind  my  business.  For  an 
Athenian  blockhead  is  the  worst  of  all  blockheads."4- 

Dr.  Adams  told  me  that  Johnson,  while  he  was  at 
Pembroke  College,  "  was  caressed  and  loved  by  all 
about  him,  was  a  gay  and  frolicksome  fellow,  and 
passed  there  the  happiest  part  of  his  life."  But  this  is 
a  striking  proof  of  the  fallacy  of  appearances,  and  how 
little  any  of  us  know  of  the  real  internal  state  even  of 
those  whom  we  see  most  frequently  ;  for  the  truth  is, 
that  he  was  then  depressed  by  poverty,  and  irritated  by 
disease.  When  1  mentioned  to  him  this  account  as 
given  me  by  Dr.  Adams,  he  said,  "  Ah,  Sir,  I  was  mad 
and  violent.  It  was  bitterness  which  they  mistook  for 
frolick.  I  was  miserably  poor,  and  1  thought  to  fight 
my  way  by  my  literature  and  my  wit ;  So  I  disregarded 
all  power  and  all  authority." 

The  Bishop  of  Dromore  observes  in  a  letter  to  me, 
u  The  pleasure  he  took  in  vexing  the  tutors  and  fellows 

4  I  had  this  anecdote  from  Dr.  Adams,  and  Dr.  Johnson  confirmed  it.  Bram- 
ston,  in  his  "  Man  of  Taste,"  has  the  same  thought  : 

"  Sure,  of  all  blockheads,  scholars  are  the  worst." 

[Johnson's  meaning  however,  is,  that  a  scholar  who  is  a  blockhead,  must  be  the 
worst  of  all  blockheads,  because  he  is  without  excuse.  But  Bramston,  in  the  assu- 
med character  of  an  ignorant  coxcomb,  maintains,  that  all  scholars  are  blockheads, 
on  account  of  their  scholarship.     J.  B.— O."! 


has  been  often  mentioned.     But  1  have  heard  him  saw  ». 
what  ought  to  be  recorded  to  the  honour  of  the  present  ^ff? 
venerable  master  of  that  College,  thi   Keverend  William   21.' 

Adams,  1).  D.  who  was  then  very  young,  and  one  of 
the  junior  fellows  ;  that  the  mild  butjudi<  ious  expostu- 
lations of  this  worthy  man,  whose  virtue  awed  him, 
and  whose  learning  he  revered,  made  him  really  asham- 
ed of  himself,  '  though  I  fear  (said  he)  I  was  too  proud 
to  own  it.' 

"  I  have  heard  from  some  of  his  contemporaries  that 
he  was  generally  seen  lounging  at  the  College  gate, 
with  a  circle  of  young  students  round  him,  whom  he 
was  entertaining  with  wit,  and  keeping  from  their 
studies,  if  not  spiriting  them  up  to  rebellion  against  the 
College  discipline,  which  in  his  maturer  years  he  so 
much  extolled." 

He  very  early  began  to  attempt  keeping  notes  or 
memorandums,  by  way  of  a  diary  of  his  life.  1  find, 
in  a  parcel  of  loose  leaves,  the  following  spirited  resolu- 
tion to  contend  against  his  natural  indolence  :  Oct. 
1729.  "Desk/ice  vuledivi ;  syrenis  istius  cantibus  sur- 
dum  posthac  aurem  obversurus. — 1  bid  farewell  to  Sloth, 
being  resolved  henceforth  not  to  listen  to  her  syren 
strains."  1  have  also  in  my  possession  a  few  leaves  of 
another  Libel/us,  or  little  book,  entitled  An  nails,  in 
wrhich  some  of  the  early  particulars  of  his  history  are 
registered  in  Latin. 

I  do  not  find  that  he  formed  any  close  intimacies 
with  his  fellow-collegians.  But  Dr.  Adams  told  me, 
that  he  contracted  a  love  and  regard  for  Pembroke 
College,  which  he  retained  to  the  last.  A  short  time 
before  his  death  he  sent  to  that  College,  a  present  of 
all  his  works,  to  be  deposited  in  their  library  :  and  he 
had  thoughts  of  leaving  to  it  his  house  at  Lichfield; 
but  his  friends  who  were  about  him  very  properly  dis- 
suaded him  from  it,  and  he  bequeathed  it  to  some  poo: 
relations.  He  took  a  pleasure  in  boasting  of  the  many 
eminent  men  who  had  been  educated  at  Pembroke.  In 
this  list  are  found  the  names  of  Mr.  Hawkins  the  Po- 
etry Professor,  Mr.  Sher.stone.  Sir  William  Blackstont  . 

04  THE    LIFE    OF 

1730.  and  others  ;*  not  forgetting  the  celebrated  popular 
JJ^  preacher,  Mr.  George  Whitefield,  of  whom,  though  Dr. 
21.  '  Johnson  did  not  think  very  highly,  it  must  be  acknowl- 
edged that  his;  eloquence  was  powerful,  his  views  pious 
and  charitable,  his  assiduity  almost  incredible ;  and, 
that  since  his  death,  the  integrity  of  his  character  has 
been  fully  vindicated.  Being  himself  a  poet,  Johnson 
was  peculiarly  happy  in  mentioning  how  many  of  the 
sons  of  Pembroke  were  poets  ;  adding,  with  a  smile  of 
sportive  triumph,  "  Sir,  we  are  a  nest  of  singing  birds." 
He  was  not,  however,  blind  to  what  he  thought 
the  defects  of  his  own  college  :  and  I  have,  from  the 
information  of  Dr.  Taylor,  a  very  strong  instance  of 
that  rigid  honesty  which  he  ever  inflexibly  preserved. 
Taylor  had  obtained  his  father's  consent  to  be  entered 
of  Pembroke,  that  he  might  be  with  his  school-fellow 
Johnson,  with  whom,  though,  some  years  older  than 
himself,  he  was  verv  intimate.  Ihis  would  have  been 
a  great  comfort  to  Johnson.  But  he  fairly  told  Taylor 
that  he  could  not,  in  conscience,  suffer  him  to  enter 
where  he  knew  he  could  not  have  an  able  tutor.  He 
then  made  enquiry  all  round  the  University,  and  hav- 
ing found  that  Mr.  Bateman,  of  Christ  Church,  was 
the  tutor  of  highest  reputation,  Taylor  was  entered  of 
that  College.  Mr.  Bateman's  lectures  were  so  excel- 
lent, that  Johnson  used  to  come  and  get  them  at  sec- 
ond-hand from  Taylor,  till  his  poverty  being  so  ex- 
treme, that  his  shoes  were  worn  out,  and  his  feet  ap- 
peared through  them,  he  saw  that  his  humiliating  cir- 
cumstances were  perceived  by  the  Christ  Church  men. 
and  he  came  no  more.  He  was  too  proud  to  accept  of 
money,  and  somebody  having  set  a  pair  of  new  shoes 
at  his  door,  he  threw  them  awav  with  indignation. 
How  must  we  feel  when  we  read  such  an  anecdote  of 
Samuel  Johnson  ! 

His  spirited  refusal  of  an  eleemosynary  supply  of 
shoes,  arose,  no  doubt,  from  a  proper  pride.  But,  con- 
sidering his  ascetic  disposition  at  times,  as  acknowl- 
edged by  himself  in  his  Meditations,  and  the  exaggera- 

■  See  Nash's  History  of  Worcestershire,  Vol.  I.  p.  529. 


tion  with  which  some  have  treated  the  peculiarities  of  *73i. 
his  character,  1  should  not  wonder  to  hear  it  ascribed  ^^ 
to  a  principle  of  superstitious  mortification  ;  as  we  are    ..-. 
told  by  Tursellinus,  in  his   Life  of  St.  Ignatius  Loyola, 
that  this  intrepid  founder  of  the  order  of  Jesuits,  when 
he  arrived  at  Goa,  after  having  made  a  severe  pilgrim- 
age through  the  eastern  desarts,  persisted  in   wearing 
his  miserable  shattered  shoes,  and  when  new  ones  were 
offered  him,  rejected  them  as  an  unsuitable  indulgence. 

The  res  angusta  domi  prevented  him  from  having  the 
advantage  of  a  complete  academical  education,  i  he 
friend  to  whom  he  had  trusted  for  support  had  deceived 
him.  His  debts  in  College,  though  not  great,  were  in- 
creasing ;  and  his  scanty  remittances  from  Lichfield, 
which  had  all  along  been  made  with  great  difficulty, 
could  be  supplied  no  longer,  his  father  having  fallen 
into  a  state  of  insolvency.  Compelled,  therefore,  b\ 
irresistible  necessity,  he  left  the  College  in  autumn, 
173 1,  without  a  degree,  having  been  a  member  of  it  lit- 
tle more  than  three  years. 

Dr.  Adams,  the  worthy  and  respectable  master  of 
Pembroke  College,  has  generally  had  the  reputation  of 
being  Johnson's  tutor.  The  fact,  however,  is,  that  in 
1731,  Mr.  Jorden  quitted  the  College,  and  his  pupils 
were  transferred  to  Dr.  Adams;  so  that  had  Johnson 
returned,  Dr.  Adams  zcoulil  have  been  his  tutor.  It  is  to 
be  wished,  that  this  connection  had  taken  place.  His 
equal  temper,  mild  disposition,  and  politeness  of  man- 
ners, might  have  insensibly  softened  the  harshness  of 
Johnson,  and  infused  into  him  those  more  delicate 
charities,  those  pclites  morales,  in  which,  it  must  be 
confessed,  our  great  moralist  was  more  deficient  than 
his  best  friends  could  fully  justify.  Dr.  Adams  paid 
Johnson  this  high  compliment.  He  said  to  me  at  Ox- 
ford, in  1776,  "I  was  his  nominal  tutor;  but  he  was 
above  my  mark."  When  I  repeated  it  to  Johnson,  his 
eyes  flashed  with  grateful  satisfaction,  and  he  exclaim- 
ed, "  That  was  liberal  and  noble." 

And  now  (I  had  almost  said  poor)  Samuel  Johnson 
returned  to  his  native  city,  destitute,  and  not  knowing 
how  he  should  gain  even   a  decent  livelihood.     His 

vol.  r.  9 

66  THE    LIFE    OF 

l?3i.  father's  misfortunes  in  trade  rendered  him  unable  to 
^iaT  support  his  son  ;  and  for  some  time  there  appeared  no 
22.    means  by  which  he  could  maintain  himself.     In  the 
December  of  this  year  his  father  died. 

The  state  of  poverty  in  which  he  died,  appears  from 
a  note  in  one  of  Johnson's  little  diaries  of  the  following 
year,  which  strongly  displays  his  spirit  and  virtuous 
dignity  of  mind.  "  1732,  Julii  15.  Undecim  aureos 
deposui,  quo  die  quicquid  ante  mat r is  fumis  (quod  serum 
sit  precor)  de  pate  mis  bonis  speran licet,  viginti  scilicet 
libras,  accepi.  Usque  adeo  mihi  fort  una  Jingenda  est. 
Tnterea,  ne  paupertate  vires  animi  languescant,  nee  in 
Jlagitia  egestas  abigat,  cavendum.—\  layed  by  eleven 
guineas  on  this  day,  when  I  received  twenty  pounds, 
being  all  that  I  have  reason  to  hope  for  out  of  my 
father's  effects,  previous  to  the  death  of  my  mother  ;  an 
event  which  I  pray  God  may  be  very  remote.  I  now 
therefore  see  that I.  must  make  my  own  fortune.  Mean- 
while, let  me  take  care  that  the  powers  of  my  mind  be 
not  debilitated  by  poverty,  and  that  indigence  do  not 
force  me  into  any  criminal  act." 

Johnson  was  so  far  fortunate,  that  the  respectable 
character  of  his  parents,  and  his  own  merit,  had,  from 
his  earliest  years,  secured  him  a  kind  reception  in  the 
best  families  at  Lichfield.  Among  these  I  can  mention 
Mr.  Howard,  Dr.  Swinfen,  Mr.  Simpson,  Mr.  Levett. 
Captain  Garrick,  father  of  the  great  ornament  of  the 
British  stage;  but  above  all,  Mr.  Gilbert  YValmsley,6 
Registrar  of  the  Ecclesiastical  Court  of  Lichfield,  whose 
character,  long  after  his  decease,  Dr.  Johnson  has,  in 
his  life  of  Edmund  Smith,  thus  drawn  in  the  glowing 
colours  of  gratitude  : 

"  Of  Gilbert  Walmsley,  thus  presented  to  my  mind, 
let  me  indulge  myself  in  the  remembrance.  1  knew 
him  very  early  ;  he  was  one  of  the  first  friends  that  lit— 

6  Mr.  Warton  informs  me,  "  that  this  early  friend  of  Johnson  was  entered  a 
Commoner  of  Trinity  College,  Oxford,  aged  17,  in  1698  ;  and  is  the  author  of  ma- 
ny Latin  verse  translations  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine.  One  of  them  is  a  trans- 
lation of 

"  My  time,  O  ye  Muses,  was  happily  spent,"  &c. 
He  died  August  3,  J  751,  and  a  monument  to  his  memory  has  been  erected  in  the 
cathedral  of  Lichfield,  with  an  inscription  written  by  Mr.  Seward,  one  of  the  Pre- 


eratufe  procured  me,  and  1  hope,  that  at  least,  mygrat-  ]73i. 
itude  made  me  worthy  of  his  notice.  JEtat 

"  He  was  of  an  advanced  age,  and  1  was  only  not  a     > 
boy,  vet  he  never  received  my  notions  with  contempt. 
Jle  was  a  whig,  with  all  the  virulence  and  malevoi<  n< 
of  his  party;  yet  difference  of  opinion  did  not  keep  us 
apart.     1  honoured  him  and  he  endured  me. 

"He  had  mingled  with  the  gray  world  without  ex- 
emption  from  its  vices  or  its  follies ;  but  had  never  n<  - 
glected  the  cultivation  of  his  mind.  1  lis  belief  of  r<  ve- 
lation  was  unshaken  ;  his  learning  preserved  his  princi- 
ples ;  he  grew  first  regular,  and  then  pious. 

"  His  studies  had  been  so  various,  that  I  am  not  ahle 
to  name  a  man  of  equal  knowledge.  1  lis  acquaintan 
with  books  was  great,  and  what  he  did  not  immediately 
know,  he  could,  at  least,  tell  where  to  find.  Mich  was 
his  amplitude  of  learning,  and  such  his  copiousness  of 
communication,  that  it  may  he  doubted  whether  a  day 
now  passes,  in  which  1  have  not  some  advantage  from 
his  friendship. 

"At  this  man's  table  I  enjoyed  many  cheerful  and 
instructive  hours,  with  companions,  such  as  are  not 
often  found — with  one  who  has  lengthened,  and  one 
who  has  gladdened  life  ;  with  Dr.  James,  whose  skill 
in  physick  will  be  long  remembered  ;  and  with  David 
Garrick,  whom  I  hoped  to  have  gratified  with  this 
character  of  our  common  friend.  But  what  are  tie 
hopes  of  man  !  I  am  disappointed  by  that  stroke  i 
death,  which  has  eclipsed  the  gaiety  ot  nations,  im- 
poverished the  publick  stock  of  harmless  pleasure." 

Jn  these  families  he  passed  much  time  in  his  ea 
years.     In  most  of  them,   he  was  in  the  compan)  o 
ladies,  particularly  at  Mr.  Walmsley's,  whose  wife  and 
sisters-in-law,  of  the  name  of  Aston,  and  daughters  oi 
a  Baronet,  were  remarkable  for  good  breeding;  so  that 
the  notion  which  has  been  industriously  circulated  and 
believed,  that  he  never  was  in  good  company  till  lat< 
in  life,  and,  consequently  had  been  confirmed  in  coarsi 
and  ferocious  manners  by  long  habits,  is  wholly  with- 
out foundation.     Some  of  the  ladies  have  as&uri   1  me 

68  THE    LIFE    OF 

1731.  they  recollected  him  well  when  a  young  man,  as  dis- 

iEtat!'  tinguished  tor  his  complaisance. 

22.  And  that  his  politeness  was  not  merely  occasional 
and  temporary,  or  confined  to  the  circles  of  Lichfield, 
is  ascertained  by  the  testimony  of  a  lady,  who,  in  a  pa- 
per with  which  I  have  been  favoured  by  a  daughter  of 
his  intimate  friend  and  physician,  Dr.  Lawrence,  thus 
describes  Dr.  Johnson  some  years  afterwards  : 

"  As  the  particulars  of  the  former  part  of  Dr.  John- 
son's life  do  not  seem  to  be  very  accurately  known,  a 
lady  hopes  that  the  following  information  may  not  be 

"  She  remembers  Dr.  Johnson  on  a  visit  to  Dr.  Tay- 
lor, at  Ashbourn,  some  time  between  the  end  of  the 
year  37,  and  the  middle  of  the  year  40  ;  she  rather 
thinks  it  to  have  been  after  he  and  his  wife  were  re- 
moved to  London.  During  his  stay  at  Ashbourn,  he 
made  frequent  visits  to  Mr.  Meynell,  at  Bradley,  where 
his  company  was  much  desired  by  the  ladies  of  the 
family,  who  were,  perhaps,  in  point  of  elegance  and 
accomplishments,  inferiour  to  few  of  those  with  whom 
he  was  afterwards  acquainted.  Mr.  Meynell's  eldest 
daughter  was  afterwards  married  to  Mr.  Fitzherbert, 
father  to  Mr.  Alleyne  Fitzherbert,  lately  minister  to  the 
court  of  Russia.  Of  her,  Dr.  Johnson  said,  in  Dr. 
Lawrence's  study,  that  she  had  the  best  understanding 
fie  ever  met  with  in  any  human  being.  At  Mr.  Mey- 
nell's he  also  commenced  that  friendship  with  Mrs. 
Hill  Boothby,  sister  to  the  present  Sir  Brook  Boothby, 
which  continued  till  her  death.  The  young  woman 
whom  lie  used  to  call  Molly  Aston,7  was  sister  to  Sir 
Thomas  Aston,  and  daughter  to  a  Baronet ;  she  was 
also  sister  to  the  wife  of  his  friend,  Mr.  Gilbert  Walms- 
ley.8  Besides  his  intimacy  with  the  above-mentioned 
persons,  who  were  surely  people  of  rank  and  education, 

7  The  words  of  Sir  John  Hawkins,  p.  316. 

8  [Sir  Thomas  Aston,  Bart.,  who  died  in  Janu,  ry  1724-5,  left  one  son,  named 
Thomas  also,  and  eight  daughters.  Of  the  daughters  Catharine  married  Johnson's 
friend,  the  Hon.  Henry  Hervey  ;  Margaret,  Gilbert  Walmsley.  Another  of  these 
ladies  married  the  Rev.  Mr.  Gastrell.  Mary,  or  Molly  Aston,  as  she  was  usually 
called,  became  the  wife  of  Captain  Brodie  of  the  Navy.  Another  sister,  who  was 
Vinmarried,  was  living  at  Lichfield  in  1776,  M,] 

DK.    JOHNSON.  69 

while  he  was  yet  at  Lichfield  he  used  to  be  frequently  1732. 
at  the  house  of  Dr.  Swinfen,  a  gentleman  of  very  an-  ^t  t 
eient   family  in   Staffordshire,    from   which,  after    the    23. 
death  of  his  elder  brother,  he  inherited  a  good  estate. 
He  was,  besides,  a  physician  of  very  extensive  practice  ; 
but  for  want  of  due  attention   to  the  management  <>;' 
his  domestick  concerns,  left  a  very  large  family  in  indi- 
gence.     One  of  his  daughters.  Mrs.  Desmoulins,  after- 
wards found  an  asylum  in  the  house  of  her  old  friend, 
whose  doors  were  always  open  to  the  unfortunate,  and 
who  well  observed  the  precept  of  the  Gospel,  for  he 
"was  kind  to  the  unthankful  and  to  the  evil." 

In  the  forlorn  state  of  his  circumstances,  he  accepted 
of  an  offer  to  be  employed  as  usher  in  the  school  of 
Market-Bos  worth,  in  Leicestershire,  to  which  it  appears, 
from  one  of  his  little  fragments  of  a  diary,  that  he  went 
on  foot,  on  the  1 6th  of  July. — "  Julii  16.  Bosvortiam 
pedes  petit."  But  it  is  not  true,  as  has  been  erroneons- 
Iv  related,  that  he  was  assistant  to  the  famous  Anthonv 
Blackwall,  whose  merit  has  been  honoured  by  the  testi- 
mony  of  Bishop  Hurd,9  who  was  his  scholar;  for  Mr. 
Blackwall  died  on  the  8th  of  April,  1730, '  more  than 
a  year  before  Johnson  left  the  University. 

This  employment  was  very  irksome  to  him  in  every 
respect,  and  he  complained  grievously  of  it  in  his  letters 
to  his  friend,  Mr.  Hector,  who  was  now  settled  as  a 
surgeon  at  Birmingham.  The  letters  are  lost ;  but  Mr. 
Hector  recollects  his  writing  "  that  the  poet  had  de- 
scribed the  dull  sameness  of  his  existence  in  these 
words,  '  Vitam  continet  una  dies'  (one  day  contains  the 
whole  of  my  life)  ;  that  it  was  unvaried  as  the  note  of 
the  cuckowr ;  and  that  he  did  not  know  whether  it  was 
more  disagreeable  for  him  to  teach,  or  the  bovs  to 
learn,   the  grammar  rules.       His  general  aversion  to 

9  [There  is  here  (as  Mr.  James  Boswell  observes  to  me)  a  slight  inaccuracy 
Bishop  Hurd,  in  the  Epistle  Dedicatory  prefixed  to  his  Commentary  on  Horace's 
. l  it  of  Poetry,  &c.  does  not  praise  Blackwall,  but  the  Rev.  Mr.  Budworth,  head- 
master of  the  grammar  school  at  Brewood  in  Staffordshire,  who  had  himself  been 
fired  under  Blackwall.  See  vol.  iii.  near  the  end,  where,  from  the  information  of 
Mr.  John  Nichols,  Johnson  is  said  to  have  applied  in  17:36  to  Mr.  Budworth,  to  be 
received  by  him  as  an  assistant  in  his  school  in  Staffordshire.  M.] 

:  ,See  Cent.  Mag.  Dec.  17S4,  p.  957. 

70  THE    LIFE    OF 

1732.  this  painful  drudgery  was  greatly  enhanced  by  a  disa- 
SaT  greement  between  him  and  Sir  Wolstan  Dixie,  the  pat- 
03. '  ron  of  the  school,  in  whose  house,  I  have  been  told,  he 
officiated  as  a  kind  of  domestick  chaplain,  so  far,  at 
least,  as  to  say  grace  at  table,  but  was  treated  with 
what  he  represented  as  intolerable  harshness ;  and, 
after  suffering  for  a  few  months  such  complicated  mis- 
ery,* he  relinquished  a  situation  which  all  his  life  after- 
wards he  recollected  with  the  strongest  aversion,  and 
even  a  degree  of  honour.  But  it  is  probable  that  at 
this  period,  whatever  uneasiness  he  may  have  endured, 
he  laid  the  foundation  of  much  future  eminence  by  ap- 
plication to  his  studies. 

Being  now  again  totally  unoccupied,  he  was  invited 
by  Mr.  Hector  to  pass  some  time  with  him  at  Birming- 
ham, as  his  guest,  at  the  house  of  Mr.  Warren,  with 
whom  Mr.  Hector  lodged  and  boarded.  Mr.  Warren 
was  the  first  established  bookseller  in  Birmingham,  and 
was  very  attentive  to  Johnson,  who  he  soon  found 
could  be  of  much  service  to  him  in  his  trade,  by  his 
knowledge  of  literature  ;  and  he  even  obtained  the  as- 
sistance of  his  pen  in  furnishing  some  numbers  of  a 
periodical  Essay  printed  in  the  newspaper,  of  which 
Warren  was  proprietor.  After  very  diligent  enquiry,  I 
have  not  been  able  to  recover  those  early  specimens  of 
that  particular  mode  of  writing  by  which  Johnson  af- 
terwards so  greatly  distinguished  himself. 

He  continued  to  live  as  Mr.  Hector's  guest  for  about 
six  months,  and  then  hired  lodgings  in  another  part  of 
the  town,3  finding  himself  as  well  situated  at  Birming- 
ham as  he  supposed  he  could  be  any  where,  while  he 
had  no  settled  plan  of  life,  and  very  scanty  means  of 
subsistence.  He  made  some  valuable  acquaintances 
there,  amongst  whom  were  Mr.  Porter,  a  mercer, 
whose  widow  he  afterwards  married,  and  Mr.  Taylor, 

2  [It  appears  from  a  letter  of  Johnson's  to  a  friend,  which  I  have  read,  dated 
Lichfield,  July  27,  1732,  that  he  had  left  Sir  Wolstan  Dixie's  house,  recently  be- 
fore that  letter  was  written.  He  then  had  hopes  of  succeeding  either  as  master  or 
usher,  in  the  school  of  Ashburne.     M..] 

3  [In  June  1733,  Sir  John  Hawkins  states,  from  one  of  Johnson's  diaries,  that 
he  lodged  in  Birmingham  at  the  house  of  a  person  named  Jarvis,  probably  a  rela- 
tion of  Mrs.  Porter,  whom  he  afterwards  married.     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  3  I 


who  by  his  ingenuity  in  mechanical  inventions,  and  Ins  1 733 
success  in  trade,  acquired  an  immense  fortune.     But  j£^ 
the  comfort  of  being  near  Mr.  Hector,  his  old  school-   24. 
fellow  and  intimate  friend,  was  Johnson's  chief  induce- 
ment to  continue  here. 

In  what  manner  he  employed  his  pen  at  this  period, 
or  whether  he  derived  from  it  any  pecuniary  advan- 
tage, I  have  not  been  able  to  ascertain.      He  probably 
got  a  little  money  from  Mr.  Warren  ;  and  we  are  cer- 
tain, that  he  executed  here  one  piece  of  literary  labour, 
of  which  Mr.  Hector  has  favoured  me  with  a  minute 
account.     Having-  mentioned  that  he  had  read  at  IVm- 
broke  College  a  Voyage  to  Abyssinia,  by  Lobo,  a  Por- 
tuguese Jesuit,  and  that  he  thought    an    abridgment 
and  translation  of  it  from  the  French  into  English  might 
be  an  useful   and  profitable  publication,  Mr.   Warren 
and  Mr.   Hector  joined  in  urging  him  to  undertake  it. 
He  accordingly  agreed  ;  and  the  book  not  being  to  be 
found  in    Birmingham,  he  borrowed   it  of  Pembroke 
College.     A  part  of  the  work  being  very  soon  done, 
one  Osborn,  who  was  Mr.  Warren's  printer,  was  set  to 
work  with  what  was  ready,  and  Johnson  engaged  to 
supply  the  press  with  copy  as  it  should  be  wanted  ; 
but  his  constitutional  indolence  soon  prevailed,  and  the 
work  was  at  a  stand.     Mr.   Hector,  who  knew  that  a 
motive  of  humanity  would  be  the  most  prevailing  argu- 
ment with  his  friend,  went  to  Johnson,  and  represent- 
ed to   him,  that  the  printer  could  have  no  other  em- 
ployment till  this  undertaking  was  finished,  and   that 
the  poor  man  and  his  family  were  suffering.     Johnson 
upon  this  exerted  the  powers  of  his  mind,  though  his 
body   was  relaxed.       He   lay  in  bed  with    the  book, 
which  was  a  quarto,  before  him,  and  dictated  while 
Hector  wrote.     Mr.  Hector  carried  the  sheets  to  the 
press,  and  corrected  almost  all  the  proof  sheets,  very 
few  of  which  were  even  seen   b.y  Johnson.      In  this 
manner,  with  the  aid  of  Mr.  Hector's  active  friendship, 
the  book  was  completed,  and  was  published  in    17  35, 
with  London  upon  the  title-page,  though  it  was  in  r< 
ality  printed  at  Birmingham,  a  device  too  common  with 

72  1HE    LI  IK    OF 

1733.  provincial  publishers.     For  this  work  he  had  from  Mr. 

SaT  Warren  only  the  sum  of  five  guineas. 
24. '  This  being  the  first  prose  work  of  Johnson,  it  is  a 
curious  object  of  enquiry  how  much  may  be  tiaced  in 
it  of  that  style  which  marks  his  subsequent  writings 
with  such  peculiar  excellence  ;  with  so  happy  an  union 
of  force,  vivacity,  and  perspicuit}\  I  have  perused  the 
book  with  this  view,  and  have  found  that  here,  as  I 
believe  in  every  other  translation,  there  is  in  the  work 
itself  no  vestige  of  the  translator's  own  style  ;  for  the 
language  of  translation  being  adapted  to  the  thoughts 
of  another  person,  insensibly  follows  their  cast,  and  as 
it  were  runs  into  a  mould  that  is  ready  prepared. 

Thus,  for  instance,  taking  the  first  sentence  that  oc- 
curs at  the  opening  of  the  book,  p.  4.  "  1  lived  here 
above  a  year,  and  completed  my  studies  in  divinity;  in 
which  time  some  letters  were  received  from  the  fathers 
of  Ethiopia,  with  an  account  that  Sultan  Segned,  Em- 
perour  of  Abyssinia,  was  converted  to  the  church  of 
Rome  ;  that  many  of  his  subjects  had  followed  his  ex- 
ample, and  that  there  was  a  great  want  of  missionaries 
to  improve  these  prosperous  beginnings.  Every  body 
was  very  desirous  of  seconding  the  zeal  of  our  fathers, 
and  of  sending  them  the  assistance  they  requested  ;  to 
which  we  were  the  more  encouraged,  because  the  Em- 
perour's  letter  informed  our  Provincial,  that  we  might 
easily  enter  his  dominions  by  the  way  of  Dancala  ; 
but,  unhappily,  the  secretary  wrote  Geila  for  Dancala, 
which  cost  two  of  our  fathers  their  lives."  Every  one 
acquainted  with  Johnson's  manner  will  be  sensible  that 
there  is  nothing  of  it  here  ;  but  that  this  sentence  might 
have  been  composed  by  any  other  man. 

But,  in  the  Preface,  the  Johnsonian  style  begins  to 
appear  ;  and  though  use  had  not  yet  taught  his  wing  a 
permanent  and  equable  flight,  there  are  parts  of  it 
which  exhibit  his  best  manner  in  full  vigour.  I  had 
once  the  pleasure  of  examining  it  with  Mr.  Edmund 
Burke,  who  confirmed  me  in  this  opinion,  by  his  supe- 
riour  critical  sagacity,  and  was,  I  remember,  much  de- 
lighted with  the  following  specimen  : 


•4  The  Portuguese  traveller,  contrary  to  the  general  ]' 
vein  of  his  countrymen,  has  amused  his  reader  with  no  jrtat. 
romantick  absurdity,  or  incredible  fictions  ;  whatever    24, 

he  relates,  whether  true  or  not,  is  at  least  probable  ; 
and  he  who  tells  nothing  exceeding  the  bounds  of 
probability,  has  a  right  to  demand  that  tin  \  should  be- 
lieve him  who  cannot  contradict  him. 

"  He  appears  by  his  modest  and  unaffected  narra- 
tion, to  have  described  things  as  he  saw  them,  to  have 
copied  nature  from  the  life,  and  to  have  consulted  his 
senses,  not  his  imagination.  He  meets  with  no  basil- 
isks that  destroy  with  their  eyes,  his  crocodiles  devour 
their  prey  without  tears,  and  his  cataracts  fall  from  the 
rocks  without  deafening  the  neighbouring  inhabitants. 

"  The  reader  w7ill  here  find  no  regions  cursed  with 
irremediable  barrenness,  or  blest  with  spontaneous  fe- 
cundity ;  no  perpetual  gloom,  or  unceasing  sunshine  ; 
nor  are  the  nations  here  described  either  devoid  of  all 
sense  of  humanity,  or  consummate  in  all  private  or  so- 
cial virtues.  Here  are  no  Hottentots  without  religious 
policy  or  articulate  language  ;  no  Chinese  perfectly 
polite,  and  completely  skilled  in  all  sciences  ;  he  will 
discover,  what  will  always  be  discovered  by  a  diligent 
and  impartial  enquirer,  that  wherever  human  nature  is 
to  be  found,  there  is  a  mixture  of  vice  and  virtue,  a 
contest  of  passion  and  reason  ;  and  that  the  Creator 
doth  not  appear  partial  in  his  distributions,  but  has 
balanced,  in  most  countries,  their  particular  inconveni- 
ences by  particular  favours." 

Here  we  have  an  early  example  of  that  brilliant  and 
energetick  expression,  which,  upon  innumerable  occa- 
sions in  his  subsequent  life,  justly  impressed  the  world 
with  the  highest  admiration. 

Nor  can  anv  one,  conversant  with  the  writings  oi 
Johnson,  fail  to  discern  his  hand  in  this  passage  of  the 
Dedication  to  John  Warren,  Esq.  of  Pembrokeshire, 
though  it  is  ascribed  to  Warren  the  bookseller.  "  A 
generous  and  elevated  mind  is  distinguished  by  nothing 
more  certainly  than  an  eminent  degree  of  curiosity  ;  ' 
nor  is  that  curiosity  ever  more  agreeably  or  usefully 

<  <pp  Rambi  er.  No.  1G 1 

vor,.  i,  10 

74«  THE    LIFE    OF 

1734.  employed,  than  in  examining  the  laws  and  customs  o( 
JJ^  foreign  nations.     I  hope,  therefore,  the  present  I  now 
25.    presume  to  make,  will  not  be  thought  improper  ;  which, 
however,  it  is  not  my  business  as  a  dedicator  to  com- 
mend, nor  as  a  bookseller  to  depreciate." 

It  is  reasonable  to  suppose,  that  his  having  been  thus 
accidentally  led  to  a  particular  study  of  the  history  and 
manners  of  Abyssinia,  was  the  remote  occasion  of  his 
writing,  many  years  afterwards,  his  admirable  philo- 
sophical tale,  the  principal  scene  of  which  is  laid  in 
that  country. 

Johnson  returned  to  Lichfield  early  in  1734,  and  in 
August  that  year  he  made  an  attempt  to  procure  some 
little  subsistence  by  his  pen  ;  for  he  published  proposals 
for  printing  by  subscription  the  Latin  Poems  of  Foli- 
tian  : s  "  Angeli  Politiani  Pocmuta  Latini,  quibus,  No- 
tas  cum  historid  Latina3  poeseos,  cl  Petrarchce  cevo  ad 
Politiani  tempora  deducta,  et  vita  Politiani  Justus  quam 
antehac  enarrata,  addidit  Sam.  Johnson/'0 

It  appears  that  his  brother  Nathanael  had  taken  up 
his  father's  trade  ;  for  it  is  mentioned  that  "  subscrip- 
tions are  taken  in  by  the  Editor,  or  N.  Johnson,  book- 
seller, of  Lichfield."  Notwithstanding  the  merit  of 
Johnson,  and  the  cheap  price  at  which  this  book  was 
offered,  there  were  not  subscribers  enough  to  insure  a 
sufficient  sale  ;  so  the  work  never  appeared,  and  pro- 
bably, never  was  executed. 

We  find  him  again  this  year  at  Birmingham,  and 
there  is  preserved  the  following  letter  from  him  to  Mr. 
Edward  Cave,7  the  original  compiler  and  editor  of  the 
Gentleman's  Magazine  : 

5  May  we  not  trace  a  fanciful  similarity  between  Puiitian,  and  Johnson  ?  Hu- 
etius,  speaking  of  Paulus  Pelissonius  Fontanerius,  says  " — in  quo  Natura,  ut  olim 
in  Angelo  Politiano,  deformitatem  oris  excellentis  ingenii  praestantia  compensavit." 
Comment,  de  reb.  ad  eum  pertin.     Edit.  Amstel.  1718.  p.  1200. 

6  The  book  was  to  contain  more  than  thirty  sheets,  the  price  to  be  two  shillings 
and  sixpence  at  the  time  of  subscribing,  and  two  shillings  and  sixpence  at  the  de- 
livery of  a  perfect  book  in  quires. 

7  Miss  Cave,  the  grand-niece  of  Mr.  Edw.  Cave,  has  obligingly  shewn  me  thr 
originals  of  this  and  the  other  letters  of  Dr.  Johnson,  to  him,  which  were  first  pub- 
lished in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  with  notes  by  Mr.  John  Nichols, the  worthy  and 
indefatigable  editor  of  that  valuable  miscellany,  signed  N.  :  some  of  which  I  shaH 
occasionally  transcribe  in  the  course  of  this  work. 

DR.    JOIINsOX.  7J 

TO    MR.    CAVE.  1/34. 

"  str,  Nov.  25,  17.; I.     *£££ 

"  As  you  appear  no- less  sensible  than  your  read-   25. 
ers  of  the  defects  of  your  poetical  article,  you  will  not 
be  displeased,  it",  in  order  to  the  improvement  of  it,  1 
communicate  to  you  tlte  sentiments  of  a  person,  w  ho 
will  undertake,  on  reasonable   terms,  sometimes  lo  t0 
a  column. 

"  His  opinion  is,  that  the  public  would  not  give  you 
a  bad  reception,  it",  beside  the  current  wit  of  the  month, 
which  a  critical  examination  would  generally  reduce  to 
a  narrow  compass,  you  admitted  not  only  poems,  in- 
scriptions, &c.  never  printed  before,  which  he  will 
sometimes  supply  you  with  ;  but  likewise  short  lite- 
rarv  dissertations  in  Latin  or  English,  critical  remarks 
on  authors  ancient  or  modern,  forgotten  poems  that  de- 
serve revival,  or  loose  pieces,  like  l;loyer's,8  worth  pr<  - 
serving.  By  this  method,  your  literary  article,  for  so  it 
might  be  called,  will,  he  thinks,  be  better  recommend- 
ed to  the  publick  than  by  low  jests,  aukward  buffoon- 
ery, or  the  dull  scurrilities  of  either  party. 

"  If  such  a  correspondence  will  be  agreeable  to  you, 
be  pleased  to  inform  me  in  two  posts,  what  the  condi- 
tions are  on  which  you  shall  expect  it.  Your  iate  of- 
fer9 gives  me  no  reason  to  distrust  your  generosity,  li 
you  engage  in  any  literary  projects  besides  this  paper,  I 
have  other  designs  to  impart,  if  1  could  be  secure  from 
having  others  reap  the  advantage  of  what  I  should  hint. 

"  Your  letter  by  being  directed  to  S.  Smith,  to  be 
left  at  the  Castle  in  Birmingham,  Warwickshire,  will 

"  Yrour  humble  servant." 

Mr.  Cave  has  put  a  note  on  this  letter,  "  Answered 
Dec.  2/'  But  whether  any  thing  was  done  in  conse- 
quence of  it  we  are  not  informed. 

Johnson  had,  from  his  early  youth,  been  sensible  to 
the  influence  of  female  charms.     When  at  Stourbrid 

8  Sir  John  Floyer's  Treatise  on  Cold  Baths.     Gent.  Mag.  1734.  p.  1!)T. 

9  A  prize  of  fifty  pounds  for  the  best  poem  "  on  Life,  Death,  Judgement,  Heav- 
m,  and  Hoi!.-'     See  Gentleman's  Magazine,  vol.  iv.  p.  560.  N. 


7b  SHE    LIFE    OP 

1734.  school,  he  was  much  enamourecl  of  Olivia  Lloyd,  a 
jEtat!  youn&  Quaker,  to  whom  he^vrote  a  copy  of  verses, 
which  I  have  not  been  able  tQ  recover  ;  but  with  what 
facility  and  elegance  he  could  warble  the  amorous  lay, 
^will  appear  from  the  following-  lines  which  he  wrote  for 
friend  Mr.  Edmund  Hector. 

erses  to  a  Lady,  on  receiving  from  her  a  Sprig  of 


"  What  hopes,  what  terrours  does  thy  gift  create, 
*'  Ambiguous  emblem  of  uncertain  fate  : 
The  myrtle,  ensign  of  supreme  command, 
Consign'd  by  Venus  to  Melissa's  hand  ; 
Not  less  capricious  than  a  reigning  fair, 
Now  grants,  and  now  rejects  a  lover's  prayer. 
In  myrtle  shades  oft  sings  the  happy  swain, 
in  myrtle  shades  despairing  ghosts  complain  ; 
The  myrtle  crowns  the  happy  lovers'  heads, 
The  unhappy  lovers'  grave  the  myrtle  spreads  : 
O  then  the  meaning  of  thy  gift  impart, 
And  ease  the  throbbings  of  an  anxious  heart  ! 
Soon  must  this  bough,  as  you  shall  fix  his  doom, 
Adorn  Philander's  head,  or  grace  his  tomb."1 

'  Mrs.  Piozzi  gives  the  following  account  of  this  little  composition  from  Dr. 
Johnson's  own  relation  to  her,  on  her  inquiring  whether  it  was  rightly  attributed 
to  him — "  I  think  it  is  now  just  forty  years  ago,  that  a  young  fellow  had  a  sprig 
of  myrtle  given  him  by  a  girl  he  courted,  and  asked  me  Po  write  him  some  verses 
that  he  might  present  her  in  return.  I  promised,  but  forgot ;  and  when  he  called 
for  his  lines  at  the  time  agreed  on — Sit  still  a  moment,  (says  I)  dear  Mund,  and  I'll 
fetch  them  thee — So  stepped  aside  for  five  nunutes,  and  wrote  the  nonsense  you 
now  keep  such  a  stir  about."     Anecdotes,  p.  34. 

In  my  first  edition  I  was  induced  to  doubt  the  authenticity  of  this  account,  by 
the  following  circumstantial  statement  in  a  letter  to  me  from  Miss  Seward,  of  Lich- 
field : — "  I  knoiv  those  verses  were  addressed  to  Lucy  Porter,  when  he  was  enam-r 
oured  of  her  in  his  boyish  days,  two  or  three  years  before  he  had  seen  her  Moth- 
er, his  future  wife.  He  wrote  them  at  my  grandfather's,  and  gave  them  to  Lucy 
in  the  presence  of  my  mother,  to  whom  he  showed  them  on  the  instant.  She  used 
to  repeat  them  to  me,  when  I  asked  her  for  the  Verses  Dr.  "Johnson  gave  her  on  a 
Sprig  of  Myrtle,  -which  he  had  stolen  or  begged  from  her  bosom.  We  all  know  honest 
Lucy  Porter  to  have  been  incapable  of  the  mean  vanity  of  applying  to  herself  a 
compliment  not  intended  for  her."  Such  was  this  lady's  statement,  which  I  make 
no  doubt  she  supposed  to  be  correct  ;  but  it  shows  how  dangerous  it  is  to  trust 
too  implicitly  to  traditional  testimony  and  ingenious  inference  ;  for  Mr.  Hector 
has  lately  assured  me  that  Mrs.  Piozzi's  account  is  in  this  instance  accurate,  and 
that  he  was  the  person  for  whom  Johnson  wrote  those  verses,  which  have  been 
erroneously  ascribed  to  Mr.  Hammond. 

I  am  obliged  in  so  many  instances  to  notice  Mrs.  Piozzi's  incorrectness  of  relation, 
that  I  gladly  seize  this  opportunity  of  acknowledging,  that  however  often,  she  is 
not  always  inaccurate. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  7  7 

His  juvenile  attachments  to  the  fair  sex  were,  how-  1734. 
ever,  very  transient  ;  and  it  is  certain,  that  he  formed  JT^ 
no  criminal  connection  whatsoever.     Mr.  1  lector,  who    25.* 
lived  with  him  in  his  younger  days  in  tin*  utmost  inti- 
macy and  social  freedom,  has  assured  me,  that  even  at 
that  ardent  season  his  conduct  was  strictly  virtuous  in 
that  respect  ;  and  that  though  he  loved   to  exhilarate 
himself  with  wine,  he  never  knew  him  intoxicated  but 

In  a  man  whom  religious  education  has  secured  from 
licentious  indulgences,  the  passion  of  love,  when  once 
it  has  seized  him,  is  exceedingly  strong  ;  being  unim- 
paired by  dissipation,  and  totally  concentrated  in  one 
object.  This  was  experienced  by  Johnson,  when  he 
became  the  fervent  admirer  of  Mrs.  Porter,  after  her 
first  husband's  death.1  Miss  Porter  told  me,  that  when 
he  was  first  introduced  to  her  mother,  his  appearance 
was  very  forbidding  :  he  was  then  lean  and  lank,  so 
that  his  immense  structure  of  bones  was  hideously  strik- 
ing to  the  eye,  and  the  scars  of  the  scrophula  were  deep- 
ly visible.     He  also  wore  his  hair,  which  was  straight 

The  author  having  been  drawn  into  a  controversy  with  Miss  Anna  Seward,  in 
consequence  of  the  preceding  statement,  (which  may  be  found  in  "  the  Gentle- 
man's Magazine,"  Vol.  lxiii  and  lxiv,)  received  the  following  letter  from  Mr.  Ed- 
mund Hector,  on  the  subject : 

"  DEAR    SIR, 

"  I  am  sorry  to  see  you  are  engaged  in  altercation  with  a  Lady,  who  seems 
unwilling  to  be  convinced  of  her  errors.  Surely  it  would  be  more  ingenuous  to 
acknowledge  than  to  persevere. 

"  Lately,  in  looking  over  some  papers  I  meant  to  burn,  I  found  the  original 
manuscript  of  the  myrtle,  with  the  date  on  it,  1731,  which  I  have  inclosed. 

'•  The  true  history  (which  I  could  swear  to)  is  as  follows :  Mr.  Morgan  Graves, 
(lie  elder  brother  of  a  worthy  Clergyman  near  Bath,  with  whom  I  was  acquainted, 
waited  upon  a  Lady  in  this  neighbourhood,  who  at  parting  presented  him  the 
branch.  He  shewed  it  me,  and  wished  much  to  return  the  compliment  in  verse. 
I  applied  to  Johnson,  who  was  with  me,  and  in  about  half  an  hour  dictated  the 
verses  which  I  sent  to  my  friend. 

"  I  most  solemnly  declare,  at  that  time,  Johnson  was  an  entire  stranger  to  the 
Porter  family  ;  and  it  was  almost  two  years  after  that  I  introduced  him  to  the  ac- 
quaintance of  Porter,  whom  I  bought  my  cloaths  of. 

"  If  you  intend  to  convince  this  obstinate  woman,  and  to  exhibit  to  the  publick 
the  truth  of  your  narrative,  you  are  at  liberty  to  make  what  use  you  please  of  this 

"  I  hope  you  will  pardon  me  for  taking  up  so  much  of  your  time.  Wishing 
you  multos  et /dices  anno;,  I  shall  subscribe  myself 

"  Your  obliged  humble  servant, 

"  Birmingham,  Jan.  9th,  1 794.  "  E.  HECTOR." 

2  rlt  appears,  from  Mr.  Hector's  letter,  that  Johnson  became  acquainted  with 
Jnet  three  years  before  he  married  her.     M.] 

78  THE    LIFE    OF 

1734,  and  stiff,  and  separated  behind  :  and  he  often  had, 
jEt^  seemingly,  convulsive  starts  and  odd  gesticulations, 
25.  '  which  tended  to  excite  at  once  surprise  and  ridicule. 
Mrs.  Porter  was  so  much  engaged  by  his  conversation 
that  she  overlooked  all  these  external  disadvantages, 
and  said  to  her  daughter,  "  this  is  the  most  sensible 
man  that  I  ever  saw  in  my  life." 

Though  Mrs.  Porter  was  double  the  age  of  John- 
son,3 and  her  person  and  manner,  as  described  to  me 
by  the  late  Mr.  Garrick,  were  by  no  means  pleasing  to 
others,4  she  must  have  had  a  superiority  of  understand- 
ing and  talents,5  as  she  certainly  inspired  him  with  a 

3  [Mrs.  Johnson's  maiden  name  was  Jervis. — Though  there  was  a  great  dispar- 
ity of  years  between  her  and  Dr.  Johnson,  she  was  not  quite  so  old  as  she  is  here 
represented,  being  only  at  the  time  of  her  marriage  in  her  forty-eighth  year,  as 
appears  by  the  following  extract  from  the  parish  register  of  Great  Peatling  in 
Leicestershire,  which  was  obligingly  made,  at  my  request,  by  the  Hon.  and  Rev. 
Mr.  Ryder,  Rector  of  Lutterworth,  in  that  county  : 

"Anno  Dom.  1688-[9.]  Elizabeth,  the  daughter  of  William  Jervis,  Esq.  and 
Mrs.  Anne  his  wife,  born  the  fourth  day  of  February  and  mane,  baptized  16th  day 
of  the  same  month  by  Mr.  Smith,   Curate  of  Little  Peatling. 

"  John  Allen,  Vicar." 

Tho  family  of  Jervis,  Mr.  Ryder  informs  me,  once  possessed  nearly  the  whole 
lordship  of  Great  Peatling,  (about  2000  acres,)  and  there  are  many  monuments  of 
them  in  the  Church  ;  but  the  estate  is  now  much  reduced.  The  present  repre- 
sentative of  this  ancient  family  is  Mr.  Charles  Jervis,  of  Hinckley,  Attorney  at 
Law.     M.] 

4  [That  in  Johnson's  eyes  she  was  handsome,  appears  from  the  epitaph  which 
he  caused  to  be  inscribed  on  her  tomb-stone  not  long  before  his  own  death,  and 
which  may  be  found  in  a  subsequent  page,  under  the  year  1752.     M.] 

5  [The  following  account  of  Mrs.  Johnson,  and  her  family,  is  copied  from  a  pa- 
per (chiefly  relating  to  Mrs.  Anna  Williams)  written  by  Lady  Knight,  at  Rome, 
and  transmitted  by  her  to  the  late  John  Hoole,  Esq.  the  translator  of  Metastasio, 
&c.  by  whom  it  was  inserted  in  the  European  Magazine  for  October  1 799  : 

"  Mrs.  Williams's  account  of  Mrs.  Johnson  was,  that  she  had  a  good  understand- 
ing, and  great  sensibility,  but  inclined  to  be  satirical.  Her  first  husband  died  in- 
solvent ;  her  sons  were  much  disgusted  with  her  for  her  second  marriage,  perhaps 
because  they  being  struggling  to  get  advanced  in  life,  were  mortified  to  think  she 
had  allied  herself  to  a  man  who  had  not  any  visible  means  of  being  useful  to  them  ; 
however,  she  always  retained  her  affection  for  them.  While  they  [Dr.  and  Mrs. 
Johnson]  resided  in  Gough  Square,  her  son,  the  officer,  knocked  at  the  door,  and 
asked  the  maid,  if  her  mistress  was  at  home.  She  answered, '  Yes,  Sir  ;  but  she  is 
sick  in  bed.'  O,  says  he, '  if  it's  so,  tell  her  that  her  son  Jervis,  called  to  know  how 
she  did  :'  and  was  going  away.  The  maid  begged  she  might  run  up  to  tell  her 
mistress,  and  without  attending  his  answer,  left  him.  Mrs.  Johnson  enraptured  to 
hear  her  son  was  below,  desired  the  maid  to  tell  him  she  longed  to  embrace  him. 
When  the  maid  descended,  the  gentleman  was  gone,  and  poor  Mrs.  Johnson  was 
much  agitated  by  the  adventure  :  it  was  the  only  time  he  ever  made  an  effort  to 
see  her.  Dr.  Johnson  did  all  he  could  to  console  his  wife,  but  told  Mrs.  Williams, 
'  Her  son  is  uniformly  undutiful  ;  so  I  conclude,  like  many  other  sober  men,  he 
might  once  in  his  life  be  drunk,  and  in  that  fit  nature  got  the  better  of  his  pride. 

The  following  anecdotes  of  Dr.  Johnson  are  recorded  by  the  same  lady  : 


more  than  ordinary  passion;  and  she  having  signified  17S6. 
her  willingness  to  accept  of  his  hand,  he  went  to  Lich-  ^JTJ* 
field  to  ask  his  mother's  consent  to  the  marriage,  which    27. 
he  could  not  but  be  conscious  was  a  very  imprudent 
scheme,  both  on  account  of  their  disparity  of  y<  ars,  and 
her  want  of  fortune.     But  Mrs.  Johnson  knew  too  well 
the  ardour  of  her  son's  temper,  and  was  too  tender  a 
parent  to  oppose  his  inclinations. 

I  know  not  for  what  reason  the  marriage  ceremony 
was  not  performed  at  Birmingham;  but  a  resolution 
wras  taken  that  it  should  be  at  Derby,  for  which  place 
the  bride  and  bridegroom  set  out  on  horseback,  I  sup- 
pose in  very  good  humour.  But  though  Mr.  Topham 
Beauclerk  used  archlv  to  mention  Johnson's  having 
told  him,  with  much  gravity,  "Sir,  it  was  a  love  mar-  SKb 
riage  on  both  sides/'  1  have  had  from  my  illustrious  Ju,.v- 
friend  the  following  curious  account  of  their  journey  to 
church  upon  the  nuptial  morn  : — "  Sir,  she  had  react 
the  old  romances,  and  had  got  into  her  head  the  fan- 
tastical notion  that  a  woman  of  spirit  should  use  her 
lover  like  a  dog.  So,  Sir,  at  first  she  told  me  that  I 
rode  too  fast,  and  she  could  not  keep  up  with  me  ;  and, 
when  I  rode  a  little  slower,  she  passed  me,  and  com- 
plained that  I  lagged  behind.  1  was  not  to  be  made 
the  slave  of  caprice  ;  and  I  resolved  to  begin  as  I  meant 
to  end.  I  therefore  pushed  on  briskly,  till  1  was  fairly 
out  of  her  sight.  The  road  lay  between  two  hedges, 
so  I  was  sure  she  could  not  miss  it  ;  and  I  contrived 
that  she  should  soon  come  up  with  me.  When  she 
did,  1  observed  her  to  be  in  tears." 

"  One  day  that  he  came  to  my  house  to  meet  many  ether;,  we  to'.d  him  that  we 
had  arranged  our  party  to  go  to  Westminster  Abbey  :  would  not  he  go  with  us  ? 
'  N'o,'  he  replied,  '  not  -while  I  can  keep  out.' 

"  Upon  our  saying  that  the  friends  of  a  lady  had  been  in  great  fear  lest  she 
should  make  a  certain  match,  he  said, '  We  that  are  bis  friends  have  had  great  fear* 
lor  him.' 

"  Dr.  Johnson's  political  principles  ran  high,  both  in  church  and  state  :  he  wish- 
ed power  to  the  King  and  to  the  Heads  of  the  Church,  as  the  laws  of  England 
have  established  ;  but  I  know  he  di  liked  absolute  power  ;  and  I  am  very  sure  ot 
his  disapprobation  of  the  doctrines  of  the  church  of  Rome  ;  because  about  three 
weeks  before  we  came  abroad,  he  said  to  my  Cornelia,  '  you  are  going  where  the 
ostentatious  pomp  of  church  ceremonies  atti  acts  the  imagination  ;  but  if  they  v, 
to  persuade  you  to  change,  you  must  remember,  time  by  increasing  your  faith,  you 
may  be  persuaded  to  become  Turk.'     If  these  were  not  ■'  ^.  I  have  kept  w» 

to  the  express  meaning."     M.] 

80  THE    LIFE    OF 

1736.  This,  it  must  be  allowed,  was  a  singular  begKnninsf  of 
^tat<  connubial  felicity  ;  but  there  is  no  doubt  that  Johnson, 
27.  though  he  thus  shewed  a  manly  firmness,  proved  a 
most  affectionate  and  indulgent  husband  to  the  last  mo- 
ment of  Mrs.  Johnson's  life :  and  in  his  "  Prayers  and 
Meditations,"  we  find  very  remarkable  evidence  that 
his  regard  and  fondness  for  her  never  ceased,  even  after 
her  death. 

He  now  set  up  a  private  academy,  for  which  purpose 
he  hired  a  large  house,  well  situated  near  his  native 
city.  In  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  for  1736,  there  is 
the  following  advertisement:  "At  Edial,  near  Lich- 
field, in  Staffordshire,  young  gentlemen  are  boarded 
and  taught  the  Latin  and  Greek  languages,  by  Samuel 
Johnson."  But  the  only  pupils  that  were  put  under 
his  care  were  the  celebrated  David  Garrick  and  his 
brother  George,  and  a  Mr.  Offely,  a  young  gentleman 
of  good  fortune,  who  died  early.  As  yet,  his  name  had 
nothing  of  that  celebrity  which  afterwards  commanded 
the  highest  attention  and  respect  of  mankind.  Had 
such  an  advertisement  appeared  after  the  publication  of 
his  London,  or  his  Rambler,  or  his  Dictionary, 
how  would  it  have  burst  upon  the  world  !  with  what  ea- 
gerness would  the  great  and  the  wealthy  have  embraced 
an  opportunity  of  putting  their  sons  under  the  learned 
tuition  of  Samuel  Johnson.  The  truth,  however,  is, 
that  he  was  not  so  well  qualified  for  being  a  teacher  ot 
elements,  and  a  conductor  in  learning  by  regular  grada- 
tions, as  men  of  inferiour  powers  of  mind.  His  own 
acquisitions  had  been  made  by  fits  and  starts,  by  vio- 
lent irruptions  in  the  regions  of  knowledge;  and  it 
could  not  be  expected  that  his  impatience  would  be 
subdued,  and  his  impetuosity  restrained,  so  as  to  fit 
him  for  a  quiet  guide  to  novices.  The  art  of  communi- 
cating instruction,  of  whatever  kind,  is  much  to  be 
valued  ;  and  I  have  ever  thought  that  those  who  de- 
vote themselves  to  this  employment,  and  do  their  duty 
with  diligence  and  success,  are  entitled  to  very  high 
respect  from  the  community,  as  Johnson  himself  often 
maintained.  Yet  I  am  of  opinion,  that  the  greatest 
abilities  are  not  only  not  required  for  this  office,  but 
render  a  man  less  fit  for  it. 


While  we  acknowledge  the  justness  of  Thomson's  •' 

beautiful  remark,  S«rt! 

"  Delightful  task  !  to  rear  the  t<  nder  thought, 

"  And  teach  the  young  idea  how  to  shoot  !" 

we  must  consider  that  this  delight  is  perceptible  only 
by  "a  mind  at  ease/'  a  mind  at  once  calm  and  clear; 
but  that  a  mind  gloomy  and  impetuous  like  of 
Johnson,  cannot  be  fixed  for  any  length  of  time  in  mi- 
nute  attention,  and  must  be  so  frequently  irritated 
by  unavoidable  slowness  and  errour  in  the  advances  of 
scholars,  as  to  perform  the  duty,  with  little  pleasure  to 
the  teacher,  and  no  great  advantage  to  the  pupils. 
Good  temper  is  a  most  essential  requisite  in  a  Pre- 
ceptor.    Horace  paints  the  character  as  bland : 

" Ut  pilaris  oVnn  dant  crust  ula  blandi 

"  Doctores,  elementa  velint  id  at see  re  prima.' 

Johnson  was  not  more  satisfied  with  his  situation 
the  master  of  an  academy,  than  with  that  of  the  usher 
of  a  school ;  we  need  not  wonder,  therefore,  that  he 
did  not  keep  his  academy  above  a  year  and  a  hall'. 
From  Mr.  Garrick's  account  he  did  not  appear  to  ha 
been  profoundly  reverenced  by  his  pupils.  His  oddi- 
ties of  manner,  and  uncouth  gesticulations,  could  not 
but  be  the  subject  of  merriment  to  them  ;  and  in  par- 
ticular, the  young  rogues  used  to  listen  at  the  door  of  his 
bed-chamber,  and  peep  through  the  key-hole,  that  th 
might  turn  into  ridicule  his  tumultuous  and  awkward 
fondness  for  Mrs.  Johnson,  whom  he  used  to  name  by 
the  familiar  appellation  of  Tetty  or  Tetsey,  which,  like 
Betty  or  Betsey,  is  provincially  used  as  a  contraction 
for  Elizabeth,  her  christian  name,  but  which  to  us  seems 
ludicrous,  when  applied  to  a  woman  of  her  age  and  ap- 
pearance. Mr.  Garrick  described  her  to  me  as  ver) 
fat,  with  a  bosom  of  more  than  ordinary  protuberance 
with  swelled  cheeks,  of  a  florid  red,  produced  by  thick 
painting,'  and  increased  by  the  liberal  use  of  cordials  ; 
flaring  and  fantastick  in  her  dress,  and  affected  both  in 
her  speech  and  her  general  behaviour.  L  have  seen 
Garrick  exhibit  her,  by  his  exquisite  talent  of  mimick- 

VOL.  I.  1  1 

82  THE    LIFE    OF 

1736.  ry?  so  as  to  excite  the  heartiest  bursts  of  laughter ;  bur 
jEt^  he,  probably,  as  is  the  case  in  all  such  representations, 
27.    considerably  aggravated  the  picture. 

That  Johnson  well  knew  the  most  proper  course  to 
be  pursued  in  the  instruction  of  youth,  is  authentically 
ascertained  by  the  following  paper  in  his  own  hand- 
writing, given  about  this  period  to  a  relation,  and  now 
in  the  possession  of  Mr.  John  Nichols: 

"  Scheme  for  the  Classes  of  a  Grammar  School. 

"  When  the  introduction,  or  formation  of  nouns  and 
verbs,  is  perfectly  mastered,  let  them  learn 

"  Corderius  by  Mr.  Clarke,  beginning  at  the  same 
time  to  translate  out  of  the  introduction,  that  by  this 
means  they  may  learn  the  syntax.  Then  let  them  pro- 
ceed to 

"  Erasmus,  with  an  English  translation,  by  the  same 

"  Class  II.  Learns  Eutropius  and  Cornelius  Nepos, 
or  Justin,  with  the  translation. 

"  N.  B.  The  first  class  gets  for  their  part  every 
morning  the  rules  which  they  have  learned  before,  and 
in  the  afternoon  learns  the  Latin  rules  of  the  nouns 
and  verbs. 

"  They  are  examined  in  the  rules  which  they  have 
learned,  every  Thursday  and  Saturday. 

"  The  second  class  does  the  same  whilst  they  are  in 
Eutropius ;  afterwards  their  part  is  in  the  irregular 
nouns  and  verbs,  and  in  the  rules  for  making  and 
scanning  verses.     They  are  examined  as  the  first. 

"  Class  111.  Ovid's  Metamorphoses  in  the  morning, 
and  Caesar's  Commentaries  in  the  afternoon. 

"  Practise  in  the  Latin  rules  till  they  are  perfect  in 
them  ;  afterwards  in  Mr.  Leed's  Greek  Grammar.  Ex- 
amined as  before. 

"Afterwards  they  proceed  to  Virgil,  beginning  at 
the  same  time  to  write  themes  and  verses,  and  to  learn 
Greek  ;  from  thence  passing  on  to  Horace,  &c.  as  shall 
seem  most  proper. 

"  1  know  not  well  what  books  to  direct  you  to,  be- 
cause you  have  not  informed  me  what  study  you  will 


apply  yourself  to.     1  believe  it  will  be  most  for  your  iTSfl. 
advantage  to  apply  yourself  wholly  to  the   languages,  jrtat 
till  you  go  to  the   university.      The  Greek  authours  I    i~. 
think  it  best  for  you  to  read  arc  these  : 

"  Cebes. 

"  /Elian.  ~) 

"  Lueian  by  Leeds.  >  Attiek. 

"  Xenophon.  ) 

"  Homer,  Ionick. 

"  Theocritus.  Dorick. 

"  Euripides.  Attiek  and  Dorick. 

"  Thus  you  will  be  tolerably  skilled  in  all  the  dia- 
lects,   beginning  with   the  Attiek,   to  which  the  r< 
must  be  referred. 

"  In  the  study  of  Latin,  it  is  proper  not  to  read  the 
latter  authours,  till  you  are  well  versed  in  those  of  ti 
purest  ages  ;  as  Terence,  Tully,  Caesar,  Sallust,  Nepos, 
Velleius  Paterculus,  Virgil,  Horace,  Phaedrus. 

"  The  greatest  and  most  necessary  task  still  remains. 
to  attain  a  habit  of  expression,  without  which  knowl- 
edge is  of  little  use.  This  is  necessary  in  Latin,  and 
more  necessary  in  English  ;  and  can  only  be  acquired 
by  a  daily  imitation  of  the  best  and  correctest  authours. 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

While  Johnson  kept  his  academy,  there  can  be  no 
doubt  that  he  was  insensibly  furnishing  his  mind  with 
various  knowledge  ;  but  I  have  not  discovered  that  he 
wrote  any  thing  except  a  great  part  of  his  tragedy  of 
Irene.  Mr.  Peter  Garrick,  the  elder  brother  of  David, 
told  me  that  he  remembered  Johnson's  borrowing  the 
Turkish  History  of  him,  in  order  to  form  his  play  from  it. 
When  he  had  finished  some  part  of  it,  he  read  what  he 
had  done  to  Mr.  Walmsley,  who  objected  to  his  having 
already  brought  his  heroine  into  great  distress,  and  ask- 
ed him,  "  how  can  you  possibly  contrive  to  plunge  hei 
into  deeper  calamity  !"  Johnson,  in  sly  allusion  to  the 
supposed  oppressive  proceedings  of  the  court  of  which 
Mr.  Walmsley  was  registrar,  replied,  "  Sir,  1  can  pul 
her  into  the  Spiritual  Court  !" 

Mr.  Walmsley,  however,  was  well  pleased  with  this 
oroofof  Johnson's  abilities  as  a  dramatick  writer,  and 

34?  IHE    LIFE    OF 

1737.  advised  him  to  finish  the   tragedy,  and   produce  it  on 

JEut.  the  8ta£e- 
28.  Johnson  now  thought  of  trying  his  fortune  in  London, 
the  great  held  of  genius  and  exertion,  where  talents  of 
every  kind  have  the  fullest  scope,  and  the  highest  en- 
couragement. It  is  a  memorable  circumstance  that  his 
pupil  David  Garrick  went  thither  at  the  same  time,6 
with  intent  to  complete  his  education,  and  follow  the 
profession  of  the  law,  from  which  he  was  soon  diverted 
by  his  decided  preference  for  the  stage. 

This  joint  expedition  of  those  two  eminent  men  to 
the  metropolis,  was  many  years  afterwards  noticed  in 
an  allegorical  poem  on  Shakspeare's  Mulberry  tree,  by 
Mr.  Lovibond,  the  ingenious  authour  of  "  The  Tears  of 

They  were  recommended  to  Mr.  Colson,7  an  emi- 
nent mathematician  and  master  of  an  academy,  by  the 
following  letter  from  Mr.  Walmsley  : 

To  the  Reverend  Mr.  Colson. 

"  dear  sir,  Lichfield,  March  2,  1737, 

4  I  had  the  favour  of  yours,  and  am  extremely 
obliged  to  you  ;  but  I  cannot  say  I  had  a  greater  affec- 
tion for  you  upon  it  than  1  had  before,  being  long  since 

6  Both  of  them  used  to  talk  pleasantly  of  this  their  first  journey  to  London. 
Garrick,  evidently  meaning  to  embellish  a  little,  said  one  day  in  my  hearing-, '  we 
rode  and  tied.'  And  the  Bishop  of  Killaloe,  [Dr.  Barnard,]  informed  me,  that  at 
another  time,  when  Johnson  and  Garrick  were  dining  together  in  a  pretty  lar°-e 
company,  Johnson  humorously  ascertaining  the  chronology  of  something,  express- 
ed himself  thus  :  "  that  was  the  year  when  I  came  to  London  with  two-pence 
half-penny  in  my  pocket."  Garrick  overhearing  him,  exclaimed,  "  eh  ?  what  do 
you  say  ?  with  two-pence  half-penny  in  your  pocket  ?" — Johnson,  "  Why,  yes  ; 
when  I  came  with  two-pence  half-penny  in  my  pocket,  and  thou,  Davy,  with  three 
half-pence  in  thine." 

7  [The  Reverend  John  Colson  was  bred  at  Emmanuel  Colledge  in  Cambridge, 
and  in  1728,  when  George  the  Second  visited  that  University,  was  created  Master 
of  Arts.  About  that  time  he  became  First  Master  of  the  Free  School  at  Rochester, 
founded  by  Sir  Joseph  Williamson.  In  1739,  he  was  appointed  Lucasian  Profess- 
or of  Mathematicks  in  the  University  of  Cambridge,  on  the  death  of  Professor 
Sanderson,  and  held  that  office  till  1759,  when  he  died.  He  published  Lectures 
on  Experimental  Philosophy,  translated  from  the  French  of  lAbbe  Nodet,  8vo. 
1732,  and  some  other  tracts.  Our  author,  it  is  believed,  was  mistaken  in  stating 
him  to  have  been  Master  of  an  Academy.  Garrick,  probably,  during  his  short 
residence  at  Rochester,  lived  in  his  house  as  a  private  pupil. 

The  character  of  Gelidus,  the  philosopher,  in  the  Rambler,  (No.  24)  was  meant 
to  represent  this  gentleman.    See  Mrs.  Piozzi's  Anecdotes,  &c.  p.  49.     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  80 

so  much  endeared  to  you,  as  well  by  an  early  friend-  l~3~- 
ship,  as  by  your  many  excellent  and  valuable  qualifica-  ^^ 
tions  ;  and,  had  I  a  son  of  my  own,  it  would  be  my  am- 
bition, instead  of  sending  him  to  the  University,  to  dis- 
pose of  him  as  this  young  gentleman  is. 

"  I  [e,  and  another  neighbour  of  mine,  one  Mr.  Sam- 
uel Johnson,  set  out  this  morning  for  London  together. 
Davy  Garrick  is  to  be  with  vou  early  the  nexl  week, 
and  Mr.  .Johnson  to  try  his  fate  with  a  tragedy,  and  to 
see  to  get  himself  employed  in  some  translation,  either 
from  the  Latin  or  the  French.  Johnson  is  a  very  good 
scholar  and  poet,  and  I  have  great  hopes  will  turn  out  a 
fine  tragedy-writer.  If  it  should  any  way  lie  in  your 
way,  doubt  not  but  you  would  be  ready  to  recommend 
and  assist  your  countryman. 

"  G.  Walmslei  " 

i  low  he  employed  himself  upon  his  first  coming  to 
London  is  not  particularly  known.5  I  never  heard 
that  he  found  anv  protection  or  encouragement  l>v  the 
means  of  Mr.  Colson,  to  whose  academy  Davit!  t  rarrick 
went.  Mrs.  Lucy  Porter  told  me,  that  Mr  Walmsley 
gave  him  a  letter  of  introduction  to  Lintot  his  booksel- 
ler, and  that  Johnson  wrote  some  things  for  him  ;  but  I 
imagine  this  to  be  a  mistake,  for  I  have  discovered  no 
trace  of  it,  and  1  am  pretty  sure  he  told  me,  that  Mr. 
Cave  was  the  first  publisher  by  whom  his  pen  was  en- 
gaged in  London. 

He  had  a  little  money  when  he  came1  to  town,  and 
he  knew  how  he  could  live  in  the  cheapest  manner. 
His  first  lodgings  were  at  the  house  of  Mr.  N orris,  a 
staymaker,  in  Exeter-street,  adjoining  Catharine-street, 
in  the  Strand.  "  1  dined  (said  he)  very  well  for  eight- 
pence,  with  very  good  company,  at  the  Pirn  -Apple  in 
New-street,  just  by.  Several  of  them  had  travelled. 
They  expected  to  meet  every  day  :  but  did  not  know 
one  another's  names.  It  used  to  cost  the  rest  a  shil- 
ling, for  they  drank  wine  ;  but  1  had  a  eut  of  meat  for 

8  One  curious  anecdote  was  communicated  by  himself  to  Mr.  John  Nichols. 
Mr.  Wilcox,  the  bookseller,  on  being  informed  by  him  that  his  intention  v  as  to 
get  his  livelihood  as  an  authour,  eyed  his  robust  frame  attentively,  and  with  a  sig- 
nificant look,  said,  "  You  had  better  buy  a  porter's  knot."     He  however  added, 

Wilcox  was  one  of  my  bf?t  friends." 


THE    LIFE    OF 

'737.  six-pence,  and  bread  for  a  penny,  and  gave  the  waiter  a 
Mat.  Penny  ;  so  that  I  was  quite  well  served,  nay,  better 
28.    than  the  rest,  for  they  gave  the  waiter  nothing." 

He  at  this  time,  I  believe,  abstained  entirely  from 
fermented  liquors  :  a  practice  to  which  he  rigidly  con- 
formed for  many  years  together,  at  different  periods  of 
his  life. 

His  Ofellus  in  the  Art  of  living  in  London,  I  have 
heard  him  relate,  was  an  Irish  painter,  whom  he  knew 
at  Birmingham,  and  who  had  practised  his  own  pre- 
cepts of  economy  for  several  years  in  the  British  capi- 
tal. He  assured  Johnson,  who,  1  suppose,  was  then 
meditating  to  try  his  fortune  in  London,  but  was  appre- 
hensive of  the  expence,  "  that  thirty  pounds  a  year 
was  enough  to  enable  a  man  to  live  there  without  being 
contemptible.  He  allowed  ten  pounds  for  cloaths  and 
linen.  He  said  a  man  might  live  in  a  garret  at  eigh- 
teen-pence  a  week ;  few  people  would  inquire  where 
he  lodged  ;  and  if  they  did,  it  was  easy  to  say,  '  Sir,  I 
am  to  be  found  at  such  a  place.'  By  spending  three- 
pence in  a  coffee-house,  he  might  be  for  some  hours 
every  day  in  very  good  company  ;  he  might  dine  for 
six-pence,  breakfast  on  bread  and  milk  for  a  penny,  and 
do  without  supper.  On  c lean-shir t-day  he  went  abroad, 
and  paid  visits."  I  have  heard  him  more  than  once 
talk  of  his  frugal  friend,  whom  he  recollected  with  es- 
teem and  kindness,  and  did  not  like  to  have  one  smile 
at  the  recital,  "  This  man  (said  he,  gravely)  was  a 
very  sensible  man,  who  perfectly  understood  common 
affairs  :  a  man  of  a  great  deal  of  knowledge  of  the  world, 
fresh  from  life,  not  strained  through  books.  He  bor- 
rowed a  horse  and  ten  pounds  at  Birmingham.  Find- 
ing himself  master  of  so  much  money,  he  set  off  for 
West  Chester,  in  order  to  get  to  Ireland.  He  return- 
ed the  horse,  and  probably  the  ten  pounds  too,  after  he 
got  home." 

Considering  Johnson's  narrow  circumstances  in  the 
early  part  of  his  life,  and  particularly  at  the  interesting 
aera  of  his  launching  into  the  ocean  of  London,  it  is 
not  to  be  wondered  at,  that  an  actual  instance,  proved 
by  experience,  of  the  possibility  of  enjoying  the  intel- 


lectual  luxury  of  social  life  upon  a  very  small  income,  l737. 
should  deeply  engage  his  attention,  and  be  ever  recol-  "T.T 

l  i     1         i    •  •  r  i  /t-tat. 

lected  by  linn  as  a  circumstance  oi  much  importance,  as. 
He  amused  himself,  1  remember,  by  computing  how 
much  more  expence  was  absolutely  necessary  to  live 
upon  the  same  scale  with  that  which  his  friend  d<  scrib- 
ed, when  the  value  of  money  was  diminished  In  tin- 
progress  of  commerce.  It  may  be  estimated  that 
double  the  money  might  now  with  diifi<  ult)  be  suffi- 

Amidst  this  cold  obscurity,  there  was  one  brilliant 
circumstance  to  cheer  him  ;  he  was  well  acquainted 
with  Mr.  Henry  Hervey,9  one  of  the  branches  of  the 
noble  family  of  that  name,  who  had  been  quartered  at 
Lichfield  as  an  officer  of  the  army,  and  had  at  this  time 
a  house  in  London,  where  Johnson  was  frequently  en- 
tertained, and  had  an  opportunity  of  meeting  genteel 
company.  Not  very  long  before  his  death,  he  men- 
tioned this,  among  other  particulars  of  his  life,  which 
he  was  kindly  communicating'  to  me  ;  and  he  describ- 
ed  this  early  friend  "  Harry  Hervey,"  thus  :  ';  He 
was  a  vicious  man,  but  very  kind  to  me.  If  you  call  a 
dog  Hervey,  I  shall  love  him." 

He  told  me  he  had  now  written  only  three  acts  of 
his  Irene,  and  that  he  retired  for  some  time  to  lodsr- 
ings  at  Greenwich,  where  he  proceeded  in  it  some- 
what further,  and  used  to  compose,  walking  in  the 
Park  ;  but  did  not  stay  long  enough  at  that  place  to 
finish  it. 

At  this  period  we  find  the  following  letter  from  him 
to  Mr.  Edward  Cave,  which,  as  a  link  in  the  chain  of 
his  literary  history,  it  is  proper  to  insert  : 

'  The  Honourable  Henry  Hervey,  third  son  of  the  first  Earl  of  Bristol,  quitted 
the  army  and  took  orders.  He  married  a  bister  of  Sir  Thomas  Aston,  by  whom 
he  got  the  Aston  Estate,  and  assumed  the  name  and  arms  of  that  family. 

Vide  Collins's  Peerage. 

[The  Honourable  Henry  Hervey  was  nearly  of  the  same  age  with  Johnson,  hav- 
ing been  born  about  nine  months  before  him,  in  the  year  1  709.  He  man 
Catharine,  the  sister  of  Sir  Thomas  Aston,  in  17:i!>  ;  and  as  that  lady  had  seven 
sisters,  she  probably  succeeded  to  the  Aston  Estate  on  the  deatli  of  her  brother  un- 
der his  will.  Mr.  Hervey  took  the  degree  of  Master  of  Arts  at  Cambridge,  at  the 
late  age  of  thirty-five,  in  1744  ;  about  which  time,  it  is  bettered,  he  entered  inta 
holy  orders.     M.] 

88  THE    LIFE    OF 

1737-  "    TO    MR.   CAVE. 

"  Greenwich,  next  door  to  the  Golden  Heart, 
u  Church-street,  July  12,  1737. 

"  Having  observed  in  your  papers  very  uncom- 
mon offers  of  encouragement  to  men  of  letters,  I  have 
chosen,  being  a  stranger  in  London,  to  communicate  to 
you  the  following  design,  which,  I  hope,  if  you  join  in 
it,  will  be  of  advantage  to  both  of  us. 

"  The  History  of  the  Council  of  Trent  having  been 
lately  translated  into  French,  and  published  with  large 
Notes  by  Dr.  Le  Courayer,  the  reputation  of  that  book 
is  so  much  revived  in  England,  that,  it  is  presumed,  a 
new  translation  of  it  from  the  Italian,  together  with  Le 
Courayer's  Notes  from  the  French,  could  not  fail  of  a 
favourable  reception. 

"  If  it  be  answered,  that  the  History  is  already  in 
English,  it  must  be  remembered,  that  there  was  the 
same  objection  against  Le  Courayer's  undertaking, 
with  this  disadvantage,  that  the  French  had  a  version 
by  one  of  their  best  translators,  whereas  you  cannot 
read  three  pages  of  the  English  History  without  discov- 
ering that  the  style  is  capable  of  great  improvements  ; 
but  whether  those  improvements  are  to  be  expected 
from  the  attempt,  you  must  judge  from  the  specimen, 
which,  if  you  approve  the  proposal,  I  shall  submit  to 
your  examination. 

"  Suppose  the  merit  of  the  versions  equal,  we  may 
hope  that  the  addition  of  the  Notes  will  turn  the  bal- 
ance in  our  favour,  considering  the  reputation  of  the 

"  Be  pleased  to  favour  me  with  a  speedy  answer,  if 
you  are  not  willing  to  engage  in  this  scheme  ;  and  ap- 
point me  a  day  to  wait  upon  you,  if  you  are. 

"  I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

It  should  seem  from  this  letter,  though  subscribed 
with  his  own  name,  that  he  had  not  yet  been  introduced 
to  Mr.  Cave.  We  shall  presently  see  what  was  done  in 
consequence  of  the  proposal  which  it  cont&ir^ 

DR.    JOHNSON.  S9 

In  the  course  of  the  summer  he  returned  to  Lich-  1737. 
field,  where  he  had  left  Mrs.  Johnson,  and  there  he  at  ]"t^ 
last  finished  his  tragedy,  which  was  not  executed  with  jg. 
his  rapidity  of  composition  upon  other  occasions,  but 
was  slowly  and  painfully  elaborated.  A  few  days  be- 
fore his  death,  while  burning  a  gnat  mass  of  papers,  he 
picked  out  from  among-  them  the  original  unformed 
sketch  of  this  tragedy,  in  his  own  hand-writing,  and  gave 
it  to  Mr.  Langton,  by  whose  favour  a  copy  of  it  is  now 
in  my  possession.  It  contains  fragments  of  the  intend- 
ed plot,  and  speeches  for  the  different  persons  of  the 
drama,  partly  in  the  raw  materials  of  prose,  partly 
worked  up  into  verse  ;  as  also  a  variety  of  hints  for  il- 
lustration, borrowed  from  the  Greek,  Roman,  and 
modern  writers.  The  hand-writing  is  very  difficult  to 
be  read,  even  by  those  who  were  besl  acquainted  with 
Johnson's  mode  of  penmanship,  which  at  all  times  was 
very  particular.  The  King  having  graciously  accepted 
of  this  manuscript  as  a  literary  curiosity,  Mr.  Langton 
made  a  fair  and  distinct  copy  of  it,  which  he  ordered 
to  be  bound  up  with  the  original  and  the  printed  tra- 
gedy ;  and  the  volume  is  deposited  in  the  King's  libra- 
ry. His  Majesty  was  pleased  to  permit  Mr.  Langton 
to  take  a  copy  of  it  for  himself. 

The  whole  of  it  is  rich  in  thought  and  imagery,  and 
happy  expressions  ;  and  of  the  disjecta  membra  scat- 
tered throughout,  and  as  vet  unarranged,  a  good  dram- 
atic  poet  might  avail  himself  with  considerable  advan- 
tage. I  shall  give  my  readers  some  specimens  of  dif- 
ferent kinds,  distinguishing  them  by  the  italick  char- 

Nor  think  to  say  here  will  I  stop, 
Here  will  I  fix  the  limits  of  transgression. 
Nor  farther  tempt  the  avenging  rage  of  heaven. 
When  guilt  like  this  once  harbours  in  the  breast. 
Those  holu  beings,  whose  /a/seat  direction 
Guides  through  the  maze  of  life  the  steps  of  man, 
"  Flij  the  detested  mansions  of  impiety, 
"  And  quit  their  charge  to  horrour  and  to  ruin.3' 

vol.  1.  1? 


[)0  THE    LIFE    OF 

1737.  A  small  part  only  of  this  interesting  admonition  is 
preserved  in  the  play,  and  is  varied,  I  think,  not  to  ad- 
vantage : 

"  The  soul  once  tainted  with  so  foul  a  crime, 

';  No  more  shall  glow  with  friendship's  hallovv'd  ardour. 

"  Those  holy  beings  whose  superior  care 

';  Guides  erring  mortals  to  the  paths  of  virtue, 

"  Affrighted  at  impiety  like  thine, 

"  Resign  their  charge  to  baseness  and  to  ruin." 

"  I  feel  the  soft  infection 
"  Flush  in  my  check,  and  wander  in  my  veins. 
'''    Teach  me  the  Grecian  arts  of  soft  persuasion" 

"  Sure  this  is   love,  which   heretofore  I  conceived  the 
dream  of  idle  maids,  and  wanton  poets" 

"    Though  no  comets  or  prodigies  foretold  the  ruin  of 
Greece,  signs  which  heaven  must  bij  another  miracle  en- 
able us  to  understand,  yet  might  it  be  fores  hewn,  bi/  to- 
kens no  less  certain,   by  the  vices  which   always  bring  it 

This  last  passage  is  worked  up  in  the  tragedy  itself, 
as  follows  : 


That  power  that  kindly  spreads 

"  The  clouds,  a  signal  of  impending  showers, 
':  To  warn  the  wand'ring  linnet  to  the  shade, 
iS  Beheld,  without  concern,  expiring  Greece, 
"  And  not  one  prodigy  foretold  our  fate. 


"  A  thousand  horrid  prodigies  foretold  it  ; 

"  A  feeble  government,  eluded  laws, 
A  factious  populace,  luxurious  nobles, 
And  all  the  maladies  of  sinking  states. 
When  publick  villainy,  too  strong  for  justice, 
Shews  his  bold  front,  the  harbinger  of  ruin, 
Can  brave  Leontius  call  for  airy  wonders, 
Which  cheats   interpret,  and  which  fools  regard  '? 
When  some  neglected  fabrick  nods  beneath 



DR.    JOHNSON.  91 

"  The  weight  of  years,  and  totters  to  the  tempest,  17  '■:  ■ 
"  Musi  heaven  despatch  the  messengers  of  light,  "J^ 
"  Or  wake  the  dead,  to  warn  us  of  its  fall  \" 

Mahomet.  (t<>  Irene.)     "  /  have  tried  thee,  and 

joy  to  /tin!  tlail  thou  deservest  to  he  loved  bij  Mahomet, — 
zvith  a  mind  great  as  his  own.  Sure,  thou  art  an  er- 
rour  of' nature,  and  an  execution  to  the  rest  of  thy  se  i  . 
and  art  immortal ;  for  sentiments  like  thine  were  m  ver 
to  sink  info  nothing:.  I  thought  all  the  thoughts  of  the 
fair  had  been  to  seleet  the  graces  of  the  day,  dispose  the 
colours  of  the  flaunting  (flowing)  robe,  tune  the  voice  and 
roll  the  eye,  place  the  gem,  choose  the  dress,  and  mid 
new  roses  to  the  fading  cheek,  but — sparkling." 

Thus  in  the  tragedy  : 

"  Illustrious  maid,  new  wonders  fix  me  thine  ; 

Thy  soul  completes  the  triumphs  of  thy  face  ; 

I  thought,  forgive  my  fair,  the  noblest  aim. 

The  strongest  effort  of  a  female  soul 
"  Was  but  to  choose  the  graces  of  the  da\ , 
"  To  tune  the  tongue,  to  teach  the  eves  to  roll. 
"  Dispose  the  colours  of  the  flowing  robe, 
"  And  add  new  roses  to  the  faded  cheek." 

I  shall  select  one  other  passage,  on  account  of  the 
doctrine  which  it  illustrates.  Irene  observes,  "  that 
the  Supreme  Being  will  accept  of  virtue,  whatever  oul- 
zcard  circumstances  it  may  be  accompanied  with,  and  may 
be  delighted  with  varieties  of  zvorship  :  but  is  answer- 
ed ;  That  variety  cannot  afjeet  that  Being,  who,  infinite- 
ly happy  in  his  own  perfect  ions,  wants  no  external  grati- 
fications ;  nor  can  infinite  truth  be  delighted  with  false- 
hood ;  that  though  he  may  guide  or  pity  those  he  leaves 
in  darkness,  he  abandons  those  who  shut  their  eyes 
against  the  beams  of  day  " 

Johnson's  residence  at  Lichfield,  on  his  return  to  it 
at  this  time,  wTas  only  for  three  months  ;  and  as  he  had 
as  yet  seen  but  a  small  part  of  the  wonders  of  the  Me- 
tropolis, he  had  little  to  tell  his  townsmen.  1  [e  related 
to  me  the  following  minute  anecdote  of  this  period  : 
"  In  the  last  age,  when  my  mother  lived  in  London, 

92  THE    LIFE    OF 

1737.  there  were  two  sets  of  people,  those  who  gave  the  wall, 
Stau  anc*  ^ose  who  took  it  ;  the  peaceable  and  the  quarrel- 
28.  some.  When  I  returned  to  Lichfield,  after  having  been 
in  London,  my  mother  asked  me,  whether  I  was  one  of 
those  who  gave  the  wall,  or  those  who  took  it.  Nozv  it 
is  fixed  that  every  man  keeps  to  the  right  ;  or,  if  one  is 
taking  the  wall,  another  yields  it  ;  and  it  is  never  a  dis- 

He  now  removed  to  London  with  Mrs.  Johnson  ; 
but  her  daughter,  who  had  lived  with  them  at  Edial, 
was  left  with  her  relations  in  the  country.  His  lodg- 
ings were  for  some  time  in  Woodstock-street,  near 
Hanover-square,  and  afterwards  in  Castle-street,  near 
Cavendish-square.  As  there  is  something  pleasingly 
interesting,  to  many,  in  tracing  so  great  a  man  through 
all  his  different  habitations,  I  shall,  before  this  work  is 
concluded,  present  my  readers  with  an  exact  list  of  his 
lodgings  and  houses,  in  order  of  time,  which,  in  placid 
condescension  to  my  respectful  curiosity,  he  one  eve- 
ning dictated  to  me,  but  without  specifying  how  long 
he  lived  at  each.  In  the  progress  of  his  life  1  shall  have 
occasion  to  mention  some  of  them  as  connected  with 
particular  incidents,  or  with  the  writing  of  particular 
parts  of  his  works.  To  some,  this  minute  attention 
may  appear  trilling  ;  but  when  we  consider  the  punctil- 
ious exactness  with  which  the  different  houses  in  which 
Milton  resided  have  been  traced  by  the  writers  of  his 
life,  a  similar  enthusiasm  may  be  pardoned  in  the  biog- 
rapher of  Johnson. 

His  tragedy  being  by  this  time,  as  he  thought,  com- 
pletely finished  and  fit  for  the  stage,  he  was  very  desir- 
ous that  it  should  be  brought  forward.  Mr.  Peter 
Garrick  told  me,  that  .Johnson  and  he  went  together  to 
the  Fountain  tavern,  and  read  it  over,  and  that  he  after- 
wards solicited  Mr.  Fleetwood,  the  patentee  of  Drury- 
Jane  theatre,  to  have  it  acted  at  his  house  ;  but  Mr. 
Fleetwood  would  not  accept  it,  probably  because  it  was 
not  patronized  by  some  man  of  high  rank  ;  and  it  was 
not  acted  till  1749,  when  his  friend  David  Garrick  was 
manager  of  that  theatre. 

1  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d  edit.  p.  2:32. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  93 

The  Gentleman's  Magazine,  begun  and  carried  1737. 
on  by  Mr.  Edward  Cave,  under  the  name  of  Sylvanus  ^^ 
Urban,  had  attracted  the  notice  and  esteem  of  John- 
son, in  an  eminent  degree,  before  he  came  to  London 

as  an  adventurer  in  literature.  1  le  told  me,  that  when 
he  first  saw  St.  John's  Gate,  the  place  where  thai  deserv- 
edly popular  miscellany  was  originally  printed,  he  "be- 
held it  with  reverence."  1  suppose,  indeed,  that  every 
young  authour  has  had  the  same  kind  of  feeling  for  th< 
magazine  or  periodical  publication  which  has  first  enter- 
tained him,  and  in  which  he  has  first  had  an  opportu- 
nity to  see  himself  in  print,  without  the  risk  of  exposing 
his  name.  I  myself  recollect  such  impressions  from 
"  The  Scots  Magazine,"  which  was  begus  at  Edin- 
burgh in  the  year  17:39,  and  has  been  ever  conducted 
with  judgement,  accuracy,  and  propriety.  I  yet  cannot 
help  thinking  of  it  with  an  affectionate  regard.  Johnson 
has  dignified  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  by  the  import- 
ance with  which  he  invests  the  life  of  Cave  ;  but  he 
has  given  it  still  greater  lustre  by  the  various  admirable 
Essays  which  he  wrote  for  it. 

Though  Johnson  was  often  solicited  by  his  friends  to 
make  a  complete  list  of  his  writings,  and  talked  of  doing 
it,  1  believe  with  a  serious  intention  that  they  should  all 
be  collected  on  his  own  account,  he  put  it  off  from  yeai 
to  year,  and  at  last  died  without  having  done  it  perfect- 
ly. I  have  one  in  his  own  hand-writing,  which  contains 
a  certain  number  ;  1  indeed  doubt  if  he  could  have  r<  - 
membered  everyone  of  them,  as  they  were  so  numer- 
ous, so  various,  and  scattered  in  such  a  multiplicity  of 
unconnected  publications  ;  nay,  several  of  them  pub- 
lished under  the  names  of  other  persons,  to  whom  he 
liberally  contributed  from  the  abundance  of  his  mind. 
We  must,  therefore,  be  content  to  discover  them,  parti} 
from  occasional  information  given  by  him  to  his  friends, 
and  partly  from  internal  evidence.2 

2  While  in  the  course  of  my  narrative  I  enumerate  his  writings,  1  shall  take  care 
that  my  readers  shall  not  be  left  to  waver  in  doubt,  between  certainty  and  conj     - 
ture,  with  regard  to  their  authenticity  ;  and,  for  that  purpose,  shall  mark  w  ith 
asterisk  (*)  those  which  he  acknowledged  to  his  friends,  and  with  a  dagg,  r    \ 
which  are  ascertained  to  be  his  by  internal  evidence.     When  any  other  pi< 
ascribed  to  him,  I  shall  give  my  reasons. 

94  l  HE    LIFE    OP 

1738.  His  first  performance  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine, 
a?TT  which  for  many  years  was  his  principal  source  for  em- 
29.  ployment  and  support,  was  a  copy  of  Latin  verses,  in 
March  17.38,  addressed  to  the  editor  in  so  happy  a  style 
of  compliment,  that  Cave  must  have  been  destitute 
both  of  taste  and  sensibility,  had  he  not  felt  himself 
highly  gratified. 

Ad  Urbanum.* 

Urbane,  nullis Jesse  laboribus, 
Urbane,  nullis  vide  calumniis, 
Cut  f route  sertum  in  eruditd 
Perpetub  viret  et  virebit  ; 

Quid  moliatur  gens  imitantium, 
Quid  et  minetur,  solicitus  paritm, 
Vacare  soils  perge  Musis, 
Juxta  animo  studiisque  Jelix. 

Linguae  procacis  plumbea  spicula, 
Fidens,  super bo  J'range  silent io  ; 
Victrix  per  obstantes  catervas 
Sedulitas  animosa  tendet. 

Iniende  nervos,fortis,  inanibus 
Risurus  olim  nisibus  cemuli ; 
Intende  jam  nervos,  habebis 
Participes  operce  Camoonas. 

Non  ulla  Musis  pagina  gratior, 
Quam  quae  severis  ludicra  jungere 
Novit,  fatigatamque  nugis 
Utilibus  recreare  mentem. 

Texente  Nymphis  serta  Lucoride, 
Rosce  ruborem  sic  viola  adjuvat 
Immista,  sic  Iris  refulget 
JElhereis  variatafucis. 3 

'  A  translation  of  this  Ode,  by  an  unknown  correspondent^  appeared  in  tlv 
Magazine  for  the  month  of  May  following  : 

"  Hail  Urban  !  indefatigable  man, 
ft  Unwearied  yet  by  all  thy  useful  toil  ! 

"  Whom  num'rous  slanderers  assault  in  vain  : 
"  Whom  no  base  calumny  can  put  to  foil. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  93 

It  appears  that  he  was  now  enlisted  by  Mr.  Cave  as  1738. 
a  regular  coadjutor  in  his  magazine,  by  winch  he  prob-  arJCT 
ably  obtained   a  tolerable   livelihood.     At  what  time,    ig, 
or  by  what  means,  he  had  acquired  acompetenl  knowl- 
edge both  of  French  and   Italian,  I  do  not   know  ;  l>ut 
he  was  so  well  skilled   in   them,  as  to   be  sufficiently 
qualified  tor  a  translator.     'That  pari  of  his  labour  w  Inch 
consisted  in  emendation  and  improvement   of  the  pro- 
ductions of  other  contributors,  like  that  employed    in 
levelling  ground,  can   be  perceived  only  by  those  who 
had  an  opporunity  of  comparing  the   original  with  the 
altered   copy.     What  we  certainly  know  to  have  been 
done  by  him  in  this  way,  was  the  debates  in  both  houses 
of  Parliament,  under  tin;  name  of  "The  Senate  of  Lil- 
iiput,"  sometimes  with  feigned  denominations  of  the 

"  But  still  the  laurel  on  thy  learned  brow 
"  Flourishes  fair,  and  shall  for  ever  grow. 

"  What  mean  the  servile  imitating  crew, 
"  What  their  vain  blust'ring,  and  their  empty  noise 

"  Ne'er  seek  :  but  still  thy  noble  ends  pursue, 
"  Unconquer'd  by  the  rabble's  venal  voice. 

"  Still  to  the  Muse  thy  studious  mind  apply, 

"  Happy  in  temper  as  in  industrj. 

"  The  senseless  sneerings  of  an  haughty  tongue, 
"  Unworthy  thy  attention  to  engage, 

"  Unheeded  pass  :  and  tho'  they  mean  thee  \vn 
•'  By  manly  silence  disappoint  their  rage. 

"  Assiduous  diligence  confounds  its  foes, 

"^Resistless,  tho'  malicious  crouds  oppose. 

"  Exert  thy  powers,  nor  slacken  in  the  course. 
"  Thy  spotless  fame  shall  quash  all  false  reports 

"  Exert  thy  powers,  nor  fear  a  rival's  force, 
"  But  thou  shalt  smile  at  all  his  vain  efforts  ; 

"  Thy  labours  shall  be  crown'd  with  large  succt 

"  The  Muse's  aid  thy  Magazine  shall  bless. 

"  No  page  more  grateful  to  th'  harmonious  nint 
"  Than  that  wherein  thy  labours  we  survey; 

"  Where  solemn  themes  in  fuller  splendour  shine, 
"  (Delightful  mixture,)  blended  with  the  gay, 

"  Where  in  improving,  various  joys  we  find, 

"  A  welcome  respite  to  the  wearied  mind. 

"  Thus  when  the  nymphs  in  some  fair  verdant  mead, 
"  Of  various  flow'rs  a  beauteous  wreath  compose, 

"  The  lovely  violet's  azure-painted  head 
"  Adds  lustre  to  the  crimson-blushing  rose. 

"  Thus  splendid  Iris,  with  her  varied  dye, 

"  Shine,  in  the  sether  and  -Jorns  the  slrv.  ■  BRITOX. " 

96  THE    LIFE    01 

1738.  several  speakers,  sometimes  with  denominations  formed 
JEtat!  of  the  letters  of  their  real  names,  in  the  manner  of  what 
29.  is  called  anagram,  so  that  they  might  easily  be  decy- 
phered.  Parliament  then  kept  the  press  in  a  kind  of 
mysterious  awe,  which  made  it  necessary  to  have  re- 
course to  such  devices.  In  our  time  it  has  acquired  an 
unrestrained  freedom,  so  that  the  people  in  all  parts  of 
the  kingdom  have  a  fair,  open,  and  exact  report  of  the 
actual  proceedings  of  their  representatives  and  legisla- 
tors, which  in  our  constitution  is  highly  to  be  valued  ; 
though,  unquestionably,  there  has  of  late  been  too  much 
reason  to  complain  of  the  petulance  with  which  obscure 
scribblers  have  presumed  to  treat  men  of  the  most  re- 
spectable character  and  situation. 

This  important  article  of  the  Gentleman's  Magazine 
was,  for  several  years,  executed  by  Mr.  William  Gu- 
thrie, a  man  who  deserves  to  be  respectably  recorded  in 
the  literary  annals  of  this  countrv.  He  was  descended 
of  an  ancient  family  in  Scotland  ;  but  having  a  small 
patrimony,  and  being  an  adherent  of  the  unfortunate 
house  of  Stuart,  he  could  not  accept  of  any  office  in  the 
state  ;  he  therefore  came  to  London,  and  employed  his 
talents  and  learning  as  an  "  Authour  by  profession." 
His  writings  in  history,  criticism,  and  politicks,  had 
considerable  merit.*  He  wras  the  first  Lns;lish  histo- 
rian  who  had  recourse  to  that  authentick  source  of  in- 
formation, the  Parliamentary  Journals  ;  and  such  was 
the  power  of  his  political  pen,  that,  at  an  early  period, 
Government  thought  it  worth  their  while  to  keep  it 
quiet  by  a  pension,  which  he  enjoyed  till  his  death. 
Johnson  esteemed  him  enough  to  wish  that  his  life 
should  be  written.  The  debates  in  Parliament,  which 
were  brought  home  and  digested  by  Guthrie,  whose 
memory,  though  surpassed  by  others  who  have  since 
followed  him  in  the  same  department,  was  yet  very 
quick  and  tenacious,  were  sent  by  Cave  to  Johnson 
for  his  revision  ;  and,  after  some  time,  when  Guthrie 

4  How  much  poetry  he  wrote,  I  know  not :  but  he  informed  me  that  he  was  the 
authour  of  the  beautiful  little  piece,  "  The  Eagle  and  Robin  Redbreast,"  in  the  col- 
lection of  poems  entitled,  "  The  Union,"  though  it  is  there  said  to  be  written  br 
Archibald  Scott,  before  the  year  1600 

DR.    JOHNSON.  97 

had  attained  to  greater  variety  of  employment,  and  the  1738. 
speeches  were    more   and  more  enriched   by   the   ;i,'~^,^' 
cession  of  Johnson's  genius,   it  was   resolved   that  lie    29. 
should  do  the   whole   himself,   from  the  scant)    notes 
furnished    by    persons    employed    to    attend    in    both 
houses    of  Parliament.       Sometimes,  however,   as   he 
himself  told   me,  he  had  nothing  more  communicated 
to  him  than  the  names  of  the  several  speakers,  and  the 
part  which  they  had  taken  in  the  debate. 

Thus  was  .Johnson  employed  dining  some  of  the  best 
years  of  his  life,  as  a  mere  literary  labourer  "  for  gain, 
not  glory,"  solely  to  obtain  an  honest  support.  He 
however  indulged  himself  in  occasional  little  sallies, 
which  the  French  so  happily  express  by  the  termj'eux 
d'esprit,  and  which  will  be  noticed  in  their  order,  in 
the  progress  of  this  work. 

But  what  first  displayed  his  transcendent  powers, 
and  "  gave  the  world  assurance  of  the  Man,"  was  his 
"  London,  a  Poem,  in  Imitation  of  the  Third  Satire 
of  Juvenal  ;"  which  came  out  in  May  this  year,  and 
burst  forth  with  a  splendour,  the  rays  of  which  will  for 
ever  encircle  his  name.  Boileau  had  imitated  the 
same  satire  with  great  success,  applying  it  to  Pans  : 
but  an  attentive  comparison  will  satisly  every  reader, 
that  he  is  much  excelled  by  the  English  Juvenal. 
Oldham  had  also  imitated  it,  and  applied  it  to  Lon- 
don :  all  which  performances  concur  to  prove,  that 
great  cities,  in  every  age,  and  in  every  country,  will 
furnish  similar  topicks  of  satire.  Whether  Johnson 
had  previously  read  Oldham's  imitation,  I  do  not 
know  ;  but  it  is  not  a  little  remarkable,  that  there  is 
scarcely  any  coincidence  found  between  the  two  per- 
formances, though  upon  the  very  same  subject.  The 
only  instances  are,  in  describing  London  as  the  sink  of 
foreign  worthlessness  : 

•' the  commo?t  s/iore, 

"  Where  France  does  all  her  filth  and  ordure  pour ; 


•'  The  common  shore  of  Paris  and  of  Rome." 


vol.  1.  13 

98  THE    LIFE    OF 

1738.  an(j 


JEtat.      "  ^°  calbng  °r  profession  comes  amiss, 
29.        "  A  needy  monsieur  can  be  what  he  please." 

"  All  sciences  a  fasting  monsieur  knows." 


The  particulars  which  Oldham  has  collected,  both 
as  exhibiting-  the  honours  of  London,  and  of  the  times, 
contrasted  with  better  days,  are  different  from  those  of 
Johnson,  and  in  general  well  chosen,  and  well  ex- 
prest. s 

There  are,  in  Oldham's  imitation,  many  prosaick 
verses  and  bad  rhymes,  and  his  poem  sets  out  with  a 
strange  inadvertent  blunder  : 

"  Tho'  much  concern'd  to  leave  my  dear  old  friend. 
"  I  must,  however,  his  design  commend 
"  Of  fixing-  in  the  country ." 

It  is  plain  he  was  not  going  to  leave  his  friend ;  his 
friend  was  going  to  leave  him.  A  young  lady  at  once 
corrected  this  with  good  critical  sagacity,  to 

"  Tho'  much  concern'd  to  lose  mv  dear  old  friend.'' 

There  is  one  passage  in  the  original,  better  trans- 
fused  by  Oldham  than  by  Johnson  : 

"  Nil  habet  infelix  paupertas  durius  in  se, 
"   Qudm  quod  ridiculos  homines  Jacit." 

which  is  an  exquisite  remark  on  the  galling  meanness 
and  contempt  annexed  to  poverty  :  Johnsons  imita- 
tion is, 

"  Of  all  the  griefs  that  harass  the  distrest, 
"  Sure  the  most  bitter  is  a  scornful  jest." 

5  I  own  it  pleased  me  to  find  amongst  them  one  trait  of  the  manners  of  the  agt 
in  London,  in  the  last  century,  to  shield  from  the  sneer  of  English  ridicule,  what 
was  some  time  ago  too  common  a  practice  in  my  native  city  of  Edinburgh  ! 

"  If  what  I've  said  can't  from  the  town  affright, 

"  Consider  other  dangers  of  the  night  ; 

"  When  brickbats  are  from  upper  stories  thrown, 

"  And  emptied  chamberpots  come  psuring  down 

"  From  garret  ivindeivs." 

DR.   JOHNSON.  99 

Oldham's,  though  1<  ss  elegant,  is  more  just  ;  '738. 

"  Nothing  in  poverty  so  ill  is  borne, 

"  As  its  exposing  men  to  grinning  scorn." 

Where,  or  in  what  manner  this  poem  was  composed, 
1  am  sorry  that  I  neglected  to  ascertain  with  precision, 
from  Johnson's  own  authority.  He  has  marked  upon 
his  corrected  copy  of  the  first  edition  of  it,  "  Written 
in  1738  ;"  and,  as  it  was  published  in  the  month  of 
May  in  that  year,  it  is  evident  that  much  time  was  not 
employed  in  preparing  it  for  the  press.  The  history  of 
its  publication  I  am  enabled  to  give  in  a  very  satis- 
factory7 manner  :  and  judging:  from  myself,  and  manv  of 
my  friends,  I  trust  that  it  will  not  be  uninteresting  to 
my  readers. 

We  may  be  certain,  though  it  is  not  expressly  named 
in  the  following  letters  to  Mr.  Cave,  in  1738,  that  the) 
all  relate  to  it : 

"  TO  MR.  CAVE. 

"Castle-street,  Wednesday  Morning. 
;sir,  [No  date:    1738.] 

"  When  I  took  the  liberty  of  writing  to  you  a  few 
days  ago,  I  did  not  expect  a  repetition  of  the  same 
pleasure  so  soon  ;  for  a  pleasure  1  shall  always  think  it, 
to  converse  in  any  manner  with  an  ingenious  and  can- 
did man  ;  but  having  the  inclosed  poem  in  my  hands 
to  dispose  of  for  the  benefit  of  the  authour,  (of  whose 
abilities  I  shall  say  nothing,  since  1  send  you  his  per- 
formance,) 1  believed  I  could  not  procure  more  ad- 
vantageous terms  from  any  person  than  from  you. 
who  have  so  much  distinguished  yourself  by  your  gen- 
erous encouragement  of  poetry  ;  and  whose  judgement 
of  that  art  nothing  but  your  commendation  of  my 
trifle6  can  give  me  any  occasion  to  call  in  question.  \ 
do  not  doubt  but  you  will  look  over  this  poem  with 
another  eye,  and  reward  it  in  a  different  manner,  from 
a  mercenary  bookseller,  who  counts  the  lines  he  is  to 
purchase,  and  considers  nothing  but  the  bulk.     1  can- 

His  Ode  «  Ad  Urbanum,"  probably.     N. 

flCAe.OC  i> 

100  THE    LIFE    OF 

1738.  not  help  taking  notice,  that,  besides  what  the  authour 
jsuJ'  may  hope  for  on  account  of  his  abilities,  he  has  like- 
29.  '  wise  another  claim  to  your  regard,  as  he  lies  at  present 
under  very  disadvantageous  circumstances  of  fortune. 
I  beg,  therefore,  that  you  will  favour  me  with  a  letter 
to-morrow,  that  I  may  know  what  you  can  afford  to 
allow  him,  that  he  may  either  part  with  it  to  you,  or 
find  out,  (which  I  do  not  expect,)  some  other  way  more 
to  his  satisfaction. 

"  I  have  only  to  add,  that  as  I  am  sensible  I  have 
transcribed  it  very  coarsely,  which,  after  having  altered 
it,  i  was  obliged  to  do,  I  will,  if  you  please  to  transmit 
the  sheets  from  the  press,  correct  it  for  you  ;  and  take 
the  trouble  of  altering  any  stroke  of  satire  which  you 
may  dislike. 

"  By  exerting  on  this  occasion  your  usual  generosity, 
you  will  not  only  encourage  learning,  and  relieve  dis- 
tress, but  (though  it  be  in  comparison  of  the  other  mo- 
tives of  very  small  account)  oblige  in  a  very  sensible 
manner,  Sir, 

"  Your  very  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johxsox." 

"  TO   MR.  CAVE. 

"sir,  "Monday,  No.  6,  Cast  lest  reel. 

"  I  am  to  return  you  thanks  for  the  present  you 
were  so  kind  as  to  send  by  me,  and  to  intreat  that  you 
will  be  pleased  to  inform  ine  by  the  penny-post, 
whether  you  resolve  to  print  the  poem.  If  you  please 
to  send  it  me  by  the  post,  with  a  note  to  Dodsley,  I 
will  go  and  read  the  lines  to  him,  that  we  may  have 
his  consent  to  put  his  name  in  the  title-page.  As  to 
the  printing,  if  it  can  be  set  immediately  about,  I  will 
be  so  much  the  authour's  friend,  as  not  to  content  my- 
self with  mere  solicitations  in  his  favour.  1  propose, 
if  my  calculation  be  near  the  truth,  to  engage  for  the 
reimbursement  of  all  that  you  shall  lose  by  an  impres- 
sion of  500  ;  provided,  as  you  very  generously  propose, 
that  the  profit,  if  any,  be  set  aside  for  the  authour's  use, 
excepting  the  present  you  made,  which,  if  he  be  a 

DR.    JOHNSON.  101 

gainer,  it  is  lit  he  should    repay.      I  beg  that  you  will  1738. 
let  one  of  your  servants  unto  an  exacl  account  of  the  ^t'^ 
expence  of  such  an  impression,  and  scud  it  with  the    29. 
poem,  that  1  may  know  what  1  engage  for.     1  am  very 
sensible,  from  your  generosity  on  this  occasion,  of  your 
regard  to  learning,  even   in  its  unhappiest  state  ;   and 
cannot  but  think  such  a  temper  deserving  of  the  grati- 
tude of  those  who  sutler  so  often  from  a  contrary  dispo- 
sition.    I  am.  Sir, 

"  Your  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

"  to  mr.  cave. 

"SIR,  [JVo  date.'] 

"  I  waited  on  you  to  take  the  copy  to  Dodsley's: 
as  1  remember  the  number  of  lines  which  it  contains, 
it  will  be  no  longer  than  Eugenio,7  with  the  quota- 
tions, which  must  be  subjoined  at  the  bottom  of  the 
page  ;  part  of  the  beauty  of*  the  performance  (if  any 
beauty  be  allowed  it)  consisting  in  adapting  Juvenal's 
sentiments  to  modern  facts  and  persons.  It  will,  with 
those  additions,  very  conveniently  make  five  sheets. 
And  since  the  expence  will  be  no  more,  1  shall  content- 
edly insure  it,  as  I  mentioned  in  my  last.  If  it  be 
not  therefore  gone  to  Dodsley's,  1  besj  it  may  be  sent 
me  by  the  penny-post,  that  I  may  have  it  in  the  even- 
ing. I  have  composed  a  Greek  Epigram  to  Eliza.8 
and  think  she  ought  to  be  celebrated  in  as  many  dif- 
ferent  lano-nages  as  Lewis  le  Grand.  Pray  send  me 
wrord  when  you  will  begin  upon  the  poem,  lor  it  is  a 
long  way  to  walk.  I  would  leave  my  Epigram,  but 
have  not  day-light  to  transcribe  it.     I  am,  Sir, 

••  Your's,  &c. 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

A  poem,  published  in  1737,  of  which  see  an  account  in  vol.  ii.  under  April 
;0,  1773. 

8  [The  learned  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Carter.  This  lady,  of  whom  frequent  mention 
will  be  found  in  these  Memoirs,  was  daughter  of  Nicholas  Carter,  D.  D.  She  died 
:n  Clarges-=treot.  Feb.  IP,  1806,  in  her  eighty-ninth  year.     M.] 

102  THE    LIFE    OF 

"  TO    MR.    CAVE. 

"  sir,  [No  date.] 

"  I  am  extremely  obliged  by  your  kind  letter,  and 
will  not  fail  to  attend  you  to-morrow  with  Irene,  who 
looks  upon  you  as  one  of  her  best  friends. 

"  I  was  to-day  with  Mr.  Dodsley,  who  declares  very 
warmly  in  favour  of  the  paper  you  sent  him,  which  he 
desires  to  have  a  share  in,  it  being,  as  he  says,  a  cred- 
itable thing  to  be  concerned  in.  I  knew  not  what  an- 
swer to  make  till  I  had  consulted  you,  nor  what  to  de- 
mand on  the  authour's  part,  but  am  very  willing  that, 
if  you  please,  he  should  have  a  part  in  it,  as  he  will 
undoubtedly  be  more  diligent  to  disperse  and  promote 
it.  If  you  can  send  me  word  to-morrow  what  1  shall 
say  to  him,  I  will  settle  matters,  and  bring  the  poem 
with  me  for  the  press,  which  as  the  town  empties,  we 
cannot  be  too  quick  with.     1  am,  Sir, 

"  Your's,  &c. 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

To  us  who  have  long  known  the  manly  force,  bold 
spirit,  and  masterly  versification  of  this  poem,  it  is  a 
matter  of  curiosity  to  observe  the  diffidence  with  which 
its  authour  brought  it  forward  into  publick  notice,  while 
he  is  so  cautious  as  not  to  avow  it  to  be  his  own  pro- 
duction :  and  with  what  humility  he  offers  to  allow  the 
printer  to  "  alter  any  stroke  of  satire  which  he  might 
dislike."  That  any  such  alteration,  was  made,  we  do 
not  know.  If  we  did,  we  could  not  but  feel  an  indig- 
nant regret ;  but  how  painful  is  it  to  see  that  a  writer 
of  such  vigorous  powers  of  mind  was  actually  in  such 
distress,  that  the  small  profit  which  so  short  a  poem, 
however  excellent,  could  yield,  was  courted  as  a  "  re- 

It  has  been  generally  said,  I  know  not  with  what 
truth,  that  Johnson  offered  his  "  London"  to  several 
booksellers,  none  of  whom  would  purchase  it.  To  this 
circumstance  Mr.  Derrick  alludes  in  the  following  lines 
of  his  "  Fortune,  a  Rhapsody  :' 




"  Will  no  kind  patron  .Johnson  own  '.  1738?. 

"  Shall  Johnson  friendless  range  the  town  .' 
"  And  every  publisher  refuse 

"  The  offspring  of  his  happy  Muse  V 

But  we  have  seen  that  the  worthy,  modest,  and  infire- 
nious  Mr.  Robert  Dodsley  had  taste  enough  to  per- 
ceive its  uncommon  merit,  and  thought  it  creditable  to 
have  a  share  in  it.  The  fact  is,  that,  at  a  future  con- 
ference, he  bargained  for  the  whole  property  of  it,  tor 
which  he  gave  Johnson  ten  guineas;  who  told  me,  "  1 
might  perhaps  have  accepted  of  less  ;  but  that  Paul 
Whitehead  had  a  little  before  got  ten  guineas  for  a 
poem  ;  and  1  would  not  take  less  than  Paul  White- 

1  may  here  observe,  that  Johnson  appeared  to  me  to 
undervalue  Paul  Whitehead  upon  every  occasion  when 
he  was  mentioned,  and,  in  my  opinion,  did  not  do  him 
justice;  but  when  it  is  considered  that  Paul  White- 
head was  a  member  of  a  riotous  and  profane  club,  we 
may  account  for  Johnson's  having  a  prejudice  against 
him.  Paul  Whitehead  was,  indeed,  unfortunate  in  be- 
ing not  only  slighted  by  Johnson,  but  violently  at- 
tacked by  Churchill,  who  utters  the  following  impre- 
cation : 

"  May  I  (can  worse  disgrace  on  manhood  fall?) 
"  Be  born  a  Whitehead,  and  baptized  a  Paul  \" 

vet  I  shall  never  be  persuaded  to  think  meanly  of  the 
authour  of  so  brilliant  and  pointed  a  satire  as  "  Man- 

Johnson's  "  London"  was  published  in  May,  17JS;"9 
and   it  is  remarkable,  that  it  came  out  on   the  same 

*  Sir  John  Hawkins,  p.  86,  tells  us,  "  The  event  is  antedated,  in  the  poem  of 
c  London  ;'  but  in  every  particular,  except  the  difference  of  a  year,  what  ii  there 
said  of  the  departure  of  Thales,  must  be  understood  of  Savage,  and  looked  upon 
as  true  history"  This  conjecture  is,  I  believe,  entirely  groundless.  I  have  been 
assured  that  Johnson  said  he  was  not  so  much  as  acquainted  with  Savage,  when 
he  wrote  his  "  London."  If  the  departure  mentioned  in  it  was  the  departure  ot 
Savage,  the  event  was  not  antedated  but  foreseen  ,  for  "  London"  was  published  in 
May,  1738,  and  Savage  did  not  set  out  for  Wales  till  July,  17:!!).  However  well 
Johnson  could  defend  the  credibility  of  second  sigti,  he  did  not  prrtcsd  that  he 
himself  was  possessed  of  that  faculty. 

104  THE    LIFE    OF 

1738.  morning  with  Pope's  satire,  entitled  "  1738  ;"  so  that 
ijE^  England  had  at  once  its  Juvenal  and  Horace  as  poet- 
og.  ical  monitors.  The  Reverend  Dr.  Douglas,  now  Bish- 
op of  Salisbury,  to  whom  I  am  indebted  for  some 
obliging  communications,  was  then  a  student  at  Ox- 
ford, and  remembers  well  the  effect  which  "  London" 
produced.  Every  body  was  delighted  with  it;  and 
there  being  no  name  to  it,  the  first  buz  of  the  literary 
circles  was,  "  here  is  an  unknown  poet,  greater  even 
than  Pope."  And  it  is  recorded  in  the  Gentleman's 
Magazine  of  that  year, «  that  it  "  got  to  the  second  edi- 
tion in  the  course  of  a  week." 

One  of  the  warmest  patrons  of  this  poem  on  its  first 
appearance  was  General  Oglethorpe,  whose  "strong- 
benevolence  of  soul"  was  unabated  durinsr  the  course 
of  a  very  long  life;  though  it  is  painful  to  think,  that 
he  had  but  too  much  reason  to  become  cold  and  cal- 
lous, and  discontented  with  the  world,  from  the  neglect 
which  he  experienced  of  his  publick  and  private  worth, 
by  those  in  whose  power  it  was  to  gratify  so  gallant  a 
veteran  with  marks  of  distinction.  This  extraordinary 
person  was  as  remarkable  for  his  learning  and  taste,  as 
for  his  other  eminent  qualities ;  and  no  man  was  more 
prompt,  active,  and  generous,  in  encouraging  merit.  I 
have  heard  Johnson  gratefully  acknowledge,  in  his 
presence,  the  kind  and  effectual  support  which  he  gave 
to  his  "  London,"  though  unacquainted  with  its  au- 

Pope,  who  then  filled  the  poetical  throne  without  a 
rival,  it  may  reasonably  be  presumed,  must  have  been 
particularly  struck  by  the  sudden  appearance  of  such  a 
poet ;  and,  to  his  credit,  let  it  be  remembered,  that  his 
feelings  and  conduct  on  the  occasion  were  candid  and 
liberal.  He  requested  Mr.  Richardson,  son  of  the 
painter,  to  endeavour  to  find  out  who  this  new  authour 
was.  Mr.  Richardson,  after  some  inquiry,  having  in- 
formed him  that  he  had  discovered  only  that  his  nam* 

[The  assertion  that  Johnson  was  not  even  acquainted  with  Savage,  when  he 
published  his  "  London,"  may  be  doubtful.  Johnson  took  leave  of  Savage  when 
he  went  to  Wales  in  1739,  and  must  have  been  acquainted  with  him  bsfor- 
fhat  period.     See.  his  Life  of  Savage.     A  >  Page  2<S° 

DR.    JOHNSON.  \0u 

was  Johnson,  and  that  he  was  some  obscure  man,  Pope  '738. 
said,  "He  will  sunn  be  deterre."       We  shall  presently  gt  t 

see,  from  a  note  written  by  Pope,   that  Ik-  was  himself   29. 
afterwards  more   successful   in    his    inquiries  than    his 

That  in  this  justly-celebrated  poem  may  be  found  a 
few  rhymes  which  the  critical  precision  of  English 
prosody  at  this  day  would  disallow,  cannot  be  denied  ; 
but  with  this  small  imperfection,  which  in  the  general 
blaze  of  its  excellence  is  not  perceived,  till  the  mind 
lias  subsided  into  cool  attention,  it  is,  undoubtedly,  one 
of  the  noblest  productions  in  our  language,  both  for 
sentiment  and  expression.  The  nation  was  then  in 
that  ferment  against  the  Court  and  the  Ministry,  which 
some  years  after  ended  in  the  downfall  of  Sir  Robert 
Walpole  ;  and  as  it  has  been  said,  that  Tories  are. 
Whigs  when  out  of  place,  and  Whigs  Tories  when  in 
place  ;  so,  as  a  Whig  Administration  ruled  with  what 
force  it  could,  a  Tory  Opposition  had  all  the  animation 
and  all  the  eloquence  of  resistance  to  power,  aided  by 
the  common  topicks  of  patriotism,  liberty,  and  inde- 
pendence !  Accordingly,  we  find  in  Johnson's  "  Lon- 
don" the  most  spirited  invectives  against  tyranny  and 
oppression,  the  warmest  predilection  for  his  own  coun- 
try, and  the  purest  love  of  virtue;  interspersed  with 
traits  of  his  own  particular  character  and  situation,  not 
omitting  his  prejudices  as  a  "  true-born  Englishman,"1 
not  only  against  foreign  countries,  but  against  Ireland 
and  Scotland.  On  some  of  these  topicks  i  shall  quote 
a  few  passages  : 


"  The  cheated  nation's  happy  fav'rites  see  ; 

"  Mark  whom  the  great  caress,  who  frown  on  me. 

"  Has  heaven  reserv'd,  in  pity  to  the  poor, 
"  No  pathless  waste,  or  undiscover'd  shore  ! 

Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  from  the  information  of  the  younger  Richardson. 

3  It  is,  however,  remarkable,  that  he  nse^  the  epithet,  which  undoubtedly,  since 
the  union  between  England   and  Scotland,  ought  to  denominate  the  natives  <• 
both  parts  of  our  island  : 

"  Was  earlv  taught  a  Briton's  right=  to  prize.' 

VOL.   T-  1  1- 

^06  THE    LJFE    OF 

173s.       «  J\0  secret  island  in  the  boundless  main  ? 
/EtdU      "  ^°  Peaceful  desart  yet  unclaimed  by  Spain  ? 
29.        "  Quick  let  us  rise,  the  happy  seats  explore, 
"  And  bear  Oppression's  insolence  no  more." 

"  How,  when  competitors  like  these  contend, 
"  Can  surly  Virtue  hope  to  find  a  friend  Vs 

"  This  mournful  truth  is  every  where  confess'd, 
"Slow  rises  worth,  by  poverty  depressed  !" 

We  may  easily  conceive  with  what  feeling  a  great 
mind  like  his,  cramped  and  galled  by  narrow  circum- 
stances, uttered  this  last  line,  which  he  marked  by  cap- 
itals. The  whole  of  the  poem  is  eminently  excellent, 
and  there  are  in  it  such  proofs  of  a  knowledge  of  the 
world,  and  of  a  mature  acquaintance  with  life,  as  can- 
not be  contemplated  without  wonder,  when  we  con- 
sider that  he  was  then  only  in  his  twenty-ninth  year, 
and  had  yet  been  so  little  in  the  "  busy  haunts  of  men." 

Yet,  while  we  admire  the  poetical  excellence  of  this 
poem,  candour  obliges  us  to  allow,  that  the  flame  of 
patriotism  and  zeal  for  popular  resistance  with  which 
it  is  fraught,  had  no  just  cause.  There  was,  in  truth. 
no  "  oppression  ;"  the  "  nation"  was  not  "  cheated." 
Sir  Robert  Walpole  was  a  wise  and  a  benevolent  minis- 
ter, who  thought  that  the  happiness  and  prosperity  of 
a  commercial  country  like  ours,  would  be  best  pro- 
moted by  peace,  which  he  accordingly  maintained  with 
credit,  during  a  very  long  period.  Johnson  himself 
afterwards  honestly  acknowledged  the  merit  of  Wal- 
pole, whom  he  called  "  a  fixed  star ;"  while  he  charac- 
terised his  opponent,  Pitt,  as  "  a  meteor."  But  John- 
son's juvenile  poem  was  naturally  impregnated  with 
the  fire  of  opposition,  and  upon  every  account  was  uni- 
versally admired. 

Though  thus  elevated  into  fame,  and  conscious  of 
uncommon  powers,  he  had  not  that  bustling  confidence, 
or,  I  may  rather  say,  that  animated  ambition,  which 
one  might  have  supposed  would  have  urged  him  to  en- 
deavour at  rising  in  life.     But  such  was  his  inflexible 

DR.    JOHNSON.  107 

dignity  of  character,  that  he  could  not  stoop  to  court  ■ 
the  great;  without  which,   hardly  any  man  lias  made  JJTJ" 

his  way  to  a  high  station.  Ho  could  not  expect  to  >,). 
produce  many  such  works  as  his  "London,"  and  he 
felt  the  hardships  of  writing-  for  bread  ;  ho  was  '  herefore, 
willing  to  resume  the  office  of  a  schoolmaster,  so  as  to 
have  a  sure,  though  moderate  income  tor  his  life;  and 
an  offer  being  made  to  him  of  the  mastership  of  a 
school, +  provided  he  could  obtain  the  degree  of  Master 
of  Arts,  Dr.  Adams  was  applied  to,  by  a  common 
friend,  to  know  whether  that  could  be  granted  him  ;i- 
a  favour  from  the  University  of  Oxford.     J3ut  though 

4  In  a  billet  written  by  Mr.  Pope  in  the  following  year,  this  school  is  said  te 
have  been  in  Shropshire  ;  but  as  it  appears  from  a  letter  from  Earl  Cower,  that 
the  trustees  of  it  were  "  some  worthy  gentlemen  in  Johnson's  neighbourhood," 
I  in  my  first  edition  suggested  that  Pope  must  have,  by  mistake,  written  Shrop- 
shire, instead  of  Staffordshire.  But  I  have  since  been  obliged  to  Mr.  Spearing, 
attorney-at-law;  for  the  following  information  : — "  William  Adams,  formerly 
citizen  andihaberdasher  of  London,  founded  a  school  at  Newport,  in  the  county 
of  Salop,  by  deed  dated  27th  November,  1656,  by  which  he  granted  '  the  yearly 
sum  of  sixty  founds  to  such  able  and  learned  schoolmaster,  from  time  to  time,  being 
of  godly  life  and  conversation,  who  should  have  been  educated  at  one  of  the  Uni- 
versities of  Oxford  or  Cambridge,  and  had  taken  the  degree  of  Master  of  Arts,  and 
was  well  read  in  the  Greek  and  Latin  tongues,  as  should  be  nominated  from  time 
to  time  by  the  said  William  Adams,  during  his  life,  and  after  the  decease  of  the  said 
William  Adams  by  the  governours  (namely,  the  Master  and  Wardens  of  the  Hab- 
erdashers' Company  of  the  City  of  London)  and  their  successors.'  The  manour 
and  lands  out  of  which  the  revenues  for  the  maintenance  of  the  school  were  to  is- 
sue are  situate  at  Knighton  and  Adiaston,  in  the-  county  of  Stafford."  From  the  tore- 
going  account  of  this  foundation,  particularly  the  circumstances  of  the  salary  being 
sixty  pounds,  and  the  degree  of  Master  of  Arts  being  a  requisite  qualification  in  the 
teacher,  it  seemed  probable  that  this  was  the  school  in  contemplation  ;  and  that 
Lord  Gower  erroneously  supposed  that  the  gentlemen  who  possessed  the  lands,  out 
of  which  the  revenues  issued,  were  trustees  of  the  charity. 

Such  was  probable  conjecture.  But  in  "  the  Gentleman's  Magazine"  for  May, 
1793,  there  is  a  letter  from  Air.  Henn,  one  of  the  masters  of  the  school  of  Appleby, 
in  Leicestershire,  in  which  he  writes  as  follows  : 

"  I  compared  time  and  circumstance  together,  in  order  to  discover  whether  the 
school  in  question  might  not  be  this  of  Appleby.  Some  of  the  trustee-  at  that  peri- 
od were  '  worthy  gentlemen  of  the  neighbourhood  of  Lichfield.'  Appleby  itself  is 
not  far  from  the  neighbourhood  of  Lichfield  :  the  salary,  the  degree  requisite,  to- 
gether with  the  time  of  election,  all  agreeing  with  the  statutes  of  Appleby.  Theelei  - 
tion,  as  said  in  the  letter, '  could  not  be  delayed  longer  than  the  1 1th  of  next  month,' 
which  was  the  1 1th  of  September,  just  three  months  after  the  annual  audit-day  of 
Appleby  school,  which  i ;  always  on  the  1 1th  of  June  :  and  the  statutes  enjoin,  nt 
xllius  praceptorum  electio  diutius  t>  ihuj  mensibus  moraretur,  &C. 

"  These  I  thought  to  be  convincing  proofs  that  my  conjecture  was  -Kit  ill-founded, 
and  that,  in  a  future  edition  of  that  book,  the  circumstance  might  be  recorded  as 

"  But  what  banishes  every  shadow  of  doubt  is  the  Minute-Loot  of  the  school,  which 
declares  the  head-mastership  to  be  at  that  time  vacant." 

I  cannot  omit  returning  thanks  to  this  learned  gentleman  for  the  very  handsome 
maimer  in  which  he  has  in  that  letter  been  so  good  as  to  speak  of  this  work. 

108  THE    LIFE    OF 

1738.  he  had  made  such  a  figure  in  the  literary  world,  it  was 

jEtaT.  tnen  thought  too  great  a  favour  to  be  asked. 

29.         Pope,  without  any  knowledge  of  him  but  from  his 

"  London,"   recommended   him  to   Earl   Gower,  who 

endeavoured  to  procure  for  him  a  degree  from  Dublin, 

by  the  following  letter  to  a  friend  of  Dean  Swift  : 

"    SIR, 

"  Mr.  Samuel  Johnson  (authour  of  London,  a 
satire,  and  some  other  poetical  pieces)  is  a  native  of 
this  country,  and  much  respected  by  some  worthy 
gentlemen  in  his  neighbourhood,  who  are  trustees  of  a 
charity-school  now  vacant  ;  the  certain  salary  is  sixty 
pounds  a  year,  of  which  they  are  desirous  to  make  him 
master  ;  but,  unfortunately,  he  is  not  capable  of  receiv- 
ing their  bounty,  which  would  make  him  happy  for  life, 
by  not  being  a  Master  of  Arts  ;  which,  by  the  statutes 
of  this  school,  the  master  of  it  must  be. 

"  Now  these  gentlemen  do  me  the  honour  to  think 
that  1  have  interest  enough  in  you,  to  prevail  upon  you 
to  write  to  Dean  Swift,  to  persuade  the  University  of 
Dublin  to  send  a  diploma  to  me,  constituting  this  poor 
man  Master  of  Arts  in  their  University.  They  highly 
extol  the  man's  learning  and  probity  ;  and  will  not  be 
persuaded,  that  the  University  will  make  any  difficulty 
of  conferring  such  a  favour  upon  a  stranger,  if  he  is 
recommended  by  the  Dean.  They  say,  he  is  not  afraid 
of  the  strictest  examination,  though  he  is  of  so  long  a 
journey  ;  and  will  venture  it,  if  the  Dean  thinks  it 
necessary  ;  choosing  rather  to  die  upon  the  road,  than 
be  starved  to  death  in  translating  for  booksellers  ; 
which  has  been  his  only  subsistence  for  some  time 

"  I  fear  there  is  more  difficulty  in  this  affair,  than 
those  good-natured  gentlemen  apprehend  ;  especially 
as  their  election  cannot  be  delayed  longer  than  the  i  lth 
of  next  month.  If  you  see  this  matter  in  the  same 
light  that  it  appears  to  me,  I  hope  you  will  burn  this, 
and  pardon  me  for  giving  you  so  much  trouble  about 
an  impracticable  thing  ;  but,  if  you  think  there  is  a 
probability  of  obtaining  the  favour  asked,  I  am  sure 

DR.    JOHNSON.  109 

your  humanity,  and  propensity  to  relieve  merit  in  dis-  J738. 
tress,  will  incline  you  to  serve  the  poor  man,  without ^J^ 
my  adding  any  more  to  the  trouble  I  have  already  given    29. 
you,  than  assuring  you  that  1  am,  with  great  truth,  >>ir, 

"  Your  faithful  servant, 

"  Gower." 
"  Trentham,  Aug.  1,  17:39." 

It  was  perhaps  no  small  disappointment  to  Johnson 
that  this  respectable  application  had  not  the  desired 
effect  ;  vet  how  much  reason  has  there  been,  both  for 
himself  and  his  country,  to  rejoice  that  it  did  not  suc- 
ceed, as  he  might  probably  have  wasted  in  obscurity 
those  hours  in  which  he  afterwards  produced  his  in- 
comparable works. 

About  this  time  he  made  one  other  effort  to  eman- 
cipate himself  from  the  drudgery  of  auth  our  ship.  He 
applied  to  Dr.  Adams,  to  consult  Dr.  Smalbroke  of  the 
Commons,  whether  a  person  might  be  permitted  to 
practise  as  an  advocate  there,  without  a  doctor's  degree 
in  Civil  Law.  "  1  am  (said  he)  a  total  stranger  to  these 
studies  ;  but  whatever  is  a  profession,  and  maintains 
numbers,  must  be  within  the  reach  of  common  abilities, 
and  some  degree  of  industry."  Dr.  Adams  was  much 
pleased  with  Johnson's  design  to  employ  his  talents  in 
that  manner,  being  confident  he  would  have  attained 
to  great  eminence.  And,  indeed,  I  cannot  conceive  a 
man  better  qualified  to  make  a  distinguished  figure  as  a 
lawyer  ;  for,  he  would  have  brought  to  his  profession  a 
rich  store  of  various  knowledge,  an  uncommon  acute- 
ness,  and  a  command  of  language,  in  which  few  could 
have  equalled,  and  none  have  surpassed  him.  I  le  who 
could  display  eloquence  and  wit  in  defence  of  the  de- 
cision of  the  House  of  Commons  upon  Mr.  Wilkes's 
election  for  Middlesex,  and  of  the  unconstitutional 
taxation  of  our  fellow-subjects  in  America,  must  have 
been  a  powerful  advocate  in  any  cause.  But  here,  also, 
the  want  of  a  degree  was  an  insurmountable  bar. 

He  was  therefore,  under  the  necessity  of  persevering 
in  that  course,  into  which  he  had  been  forced  ;  and  we 
find,  that  his  proposal  from  Greenwich  to  Mr.  Cave,  for 

HO  THE    LIFE    Ok 

1738.  a  translation  of  Father  Paul  Sarpi's  History,  was  ae- 

JEtaT  cePtecL s 
29. '      Some  sheets  of  this  translation  were  printed  off,  but 

the  design  was  dropt ;  for  it  happened,  oddly  enough, 
that  another  person  of  the  name  of  Samuel  Johnson, 
Librarian  of  St.  Martin's  in  the  Fields,  and  Curate  of 
that  parish,  engaged  in  the  same  undertaking,  and  was 
patronised  by  the  Clergy,  particularly  by  Dr.  Pearce, 
afterwards  Bishop  of  Rochester.  Several  light  skir- 
mishes passed  between  the  rival  translators,  in  the 
news-papers  of  the  day  ;  and  the  consequence  was 
that  they  destroyed  each  other,  for  neither  of  them 
went  on  with  the  work.  It  is  much  to  be  regretted, 
that  the  able  performance  of  that  celebrated  genius 
Fra  Paolo,  lust  the  advantage  of  being  incorporated 
into  British  literature  by  the  masterly  hand  of  Johnson. 
I  have  in  my  possession,  by  the  favour  of  Mr.  John 
Nichols,  a  paper  in  Johnson's  hand-writing,  entitled 
"  Account  between  Mr.  Edward  Cave  and  Sam.  John- 
son, in  relation  to  a  version  of  Father  Paul,  &c.  begun 
August  the  2d,  1738  ;"  by  which  it  appears,  that  from 
that  day  to  the  21st  of  April,  1739,  Johnson  received 
for  this  work  .,£.49  7s.  in  sums  of  one,  two,  three,  and 
sometimes  four  guineas  at  a  time,  most  frequently  two. 
And  it  is  curious  to  observe  the  minute  and  scrupu- 
lous accuracy  with  which  Johnson  had  pasted  upon  it 
a  slip  of  paper,  which  he  has  entitled  "  Small  account," 
and  which  contains  one  article,  "  Sept.  9th,  Mr.  Cave 
laid  down  2s.  6d."     There  is  subjoined  to  this  account, 

•>  In  the  Weekly  Miscellany,  October  21,  1738,  there  appeared  the  following  ad- 
vertisement :  "  Just  published,  proposals  for  printing  the  History  of  the  Council  of 
Trent,  translated  from  the  Italian  of  Father  Paul  Sarpi  ;  with  the  Authour's  Life, 
and  Notes  theological,  historical,  and  critical,  from  the  French  edition  of  Dr.  Le 
Courayer.  To  which  are  added,  Observations  on  the  History,  and  Notes  and  Il- 
lustrations from  various  Authours,  both  printed  and  manuscript.  By  S.  Johnson. 
1.  The  work  will  consist  of  two  hundred  sheets,  and  be  two  volumes  in  quarto,  print- 
ed on  good  paper  and  letter.  2.  The  price  will  be  1 8s:  each  volume,  to  be  paid,  half 
a  guinea  at  the  delivery  of  the  first  volume,  and  the  rest  at  the  delivery  of  the  sec- 
ond volume  in  sheets.  3.  Two-pence  to  be  abated  for  every  sheet  less  than  two 
hundred.  It  may  be  had  on  a  large  paper,  in  three  volumes,  at  the  price  of  three 
guineas  ;  one  to  be  paid  at  the  time  of  subscribing,  another  at  the  delivery  of  the 
first,  and  the  rest  at  the  delivery  of  the  other  volumes.  The  work  is  now  in  the 
press,  and  will  be  diligently  prosecuted.  Subscriptions  are  taken  in  by  Mr.  Dods- 
ley  in  Pali-Mall,  Mr.  Rivington  in  St.  Paul's  Church-yard,  by  E.  Cave  at  St.  John's 
Gate,  and  the  Translator,  at  No.  6,  in  Castle-street,  by  Cavendish-square." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  1  1  1 

a  list  of  some  subscribers  to  the  work,  partly  in  John-  17*8. 

son's  hand-writing,   partly  in   that  of  another  person  ;  ayTCT 
and  there  follows  a  leaf  or  two  <»n  which  arc  written  a    jo. 
number  of  characters  which   have  the  appearance  of  a 
short   hand,  which,  perhaps,  Johnson  was  then  trying 
to  learn. 

"    TO    MR.    CAVE. 


sir,  Wednesday. 

"  1  did  not  care  to  detain  your  servant  while  I 
wrote  an  answer  to  your  letter,  in  which  yon  seem  to 
insinuate  that  1  had  promised  more  than  1  am  ready  to 
perform.  If  1  have  raised  your  expectations  by  any 
thing  that  may  have  escaped  my  memory,  1  am  sorry  ; 
and  if  you  remind  me  of  it,  shall  thank  you  for  the 
favour.  If  I  made  fewer  alterations  than  usual  in  the 
Debates,  it  was  only  because  there  appeared,  and  still 
appears  to  be,  less  need  of  alteration.  The  verses  to 
Lady  Firebrace6  may  be  had  when  you  please,  for  you 
know  that  such  a  subject  neither  deserves  much 
thought,  nor  requires  it. 

"  The  Chinese  Stories7  may  be  had  folded  down 
when  you  please  to  send,  in  which  I  do  not  recollect 
that  you  desired  any  alterations  to  be  made. 

"  An  answer  to  another  query  1  am  very  willing  to 
write,  and  had  consulted  with  you  about  it  last  night, 
if  there  had  been  time  ;  for  1  think  it  tin  most  proper 
way  of  inviting  such  a  correspondence  as  may  be  an 
advantage  to  the  paper,  not  a  load  upon  it. 

"  As  to  the  Prize  Verses,  a  backwardness  to  deter- 
mine their  degrees  of  merit  is  not  peculiar  to  me. 
You  may,  if  you  please,  still  have  what  I  can  say  ;  hut 
T  shall  engage  with  little  spirit  in  an  affair,  which  I 
shall  hardly  end  to  my  own  satisfaction,  and  certainly 
not  to  the  satisfaction  of  the  parties  concerned.8 

"  As  to  Father  Paul,  I  have  not  yet  l>e<  n  just  to  my 
proposal,   but   have  met  with    impediments,   which,  I 

6  They  afterwards  appeared  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  with  this  title— 
15  Verses  to  Lady  Firebrace,  at  Bury  Assizes." 

'  Du  Halde's  Description  of  China  was  then  publishing  by  Mr.  Cave  in  weekly 
numbers,  whence  Johnson  was  to  select  pieces  for  the  embellishment  of  the  Mag- 
azine.    N, 

'<■  The  premium  of  forty  pounds  proposed  for  ihc  best  poem  on  the  Divine  At- 
tributes is  here  alluded  to.     N. 

112  THE    LIFE    Ul« 

1738.  hope,  are  now  at  an  end  ;  and  if  you  find  the  progress 
^E^  hereafter  not  such  as  you  have  a  right  to  expect,  you 
29.    can  easily  stimulate  a  negligent  translator. 

"  If  any  or  all  of  these  have  contributed  to  your 
discontent,  I  will  endeavour  to  remove  it  ;  and  desire 
you  to  propose  the  question  to  which  you  wish  for  an 
answer.  "  I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

"    to   MR.    CAVE. 

"  sir,  [No  Date.'] 

"  I  am  pretty  much  of  your  opinion,  that  the 
Commentary  cannot  be  prosecuted  with  any  appear- 
ance of  success  ;  for  as  the  names  of  the  authours  con- 
cerned are  of  more  weight  in  the  performance  than  its 
own  intrinsick  merit,  the  publick  will  be  soon  satisfied 
with  it.  And  I  think  the  Examen  should  be  pushed 
forward  with  the  utmost  expedition.  Thus,  '  This  day, 
&c.  An  Examen  of  Mr.  Pope's  Essay,  &c.  containing 
a  succinct  Account  of  the  Philosophy  of  Mr.  Leibnitz 
on  the  System  of  the  Fatalists,  with  a  Confutation  of 
their  Opinions,  and  an  Illustration  of  the  Doctrine  of 
Free-Will  ;y  [with  what  else  you  think  proper.] 

"  It  will,  above  all,  be  necessary  to  take  notice,  that 
it  is  a  thing  distinct  from  the  Commentary. 

"  I  was  so  far  from  imagining  they  stood  still,9  that 
I  conceived  them  to  have  a  good  deal  before-hand,  and 
therefore  was  less  anxious  in  providing  them  more. 
But  if  ever  they  stand  still  on  my  account,  it  must 
doubtless  be  charged  to  me  ;  and  whatever  else  shall 
be  reasonable,  i  shall  not  oppose  ;  but  beg  a  suspense 
of  judgement  till  morning,  when  I  must  entreat  you  to 
send  me  a  dozen  proposals,  and  you  shall  then  have 
copy  to  spare.  "  I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your's,  impransus, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

"  Pray  mustsr  up  the  Proposals  if  you  can,  or  let 
the  boy  recall  them  from  the  booksellers." 

„  The  Compositors  in  Mr.  Cave's  printing-office,  who  appear  by  this  letter  t» 
have  then  waited  for  copy.     N. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  11 

But  although  lie  corresponded  with  Mr.  Cave  con-  i?38 
cerning  a  translation  ofCrousaz's   Examen  of  Pope's  j!-^ 
Essay  on  Man,  and  gave  advice  as  one  anxious  for  its    jg 
success,  1  was  long-  ago  convinced  by  a  perusal  of  the 
Preface,  that  this   translation  was  erroneously  ascribed 
to  him    ;    and   1    have   found    this   point  ascertained, 
beyond  all  doubt,  by  the  following  article  in  Dr.  Birch's 
Manuscripts  in  the  British  Museum  : 

"  Eliste  Carters,  S.  P.  D.  Thomas  Birch. 
"    Versionem  tuam  Examinis  Crousaziant  jam  perlegi. 
Summam  sttjh  et  elegantiam,  et  in  re  difficillimd  propri- 
etatem,  admiratus. 

"  Dabam  Novemb.  27°  1738."' 

Indeed  Mrs.  Carter  has  lately  acknowledged  to  Mr. 
Seward,  that  she  was  the  translator  of  the  "   Examen." 

It  is  remarkable,  that  Johnson's  last  quoted  letter  to 
Mr.  Cave  concludes -with  a  fair  confession  that  he  had 
not  a  dinner  ;  and  it  is  no  less  remarkable,  that  though 
in  this  state  of  want  himself,  his  benevolent  heart  was 
not  insensible  to  the  necessities  of  an  humble  labourer 
in  literature,  as  appears  from  the  very  next  letter  : 

"    TO    MR.    CAVE. 

;;   dear  sir,  [No  date  ^] 

"  You7  may  remember  1  have  formerly  talked  with 

you  about  a  Military  Dictionary.  The  eldest  Mr. 
Macbean,  who  was  with  Mr.  Chambers,  has  very  good 
materials  for  such  a  work,  which  \  have  seen,  and  will 
do  it  at  a  very  low  rate.-  1  think  the  terms  oi*  Waj 
and  Navigation  might  be  comprised,  with  good  expla- 
nations, in  one  Svo.  Pica,  which  he  is  willing  to  do  for 
twelve  shillings  a  sheet,  to  be  made  up  a  guinea  at  the 
second  impression.  If  you  think  on  it,  1  will  wait  on 
you  with  him.         "   I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 
"  Pray  lend  me  Topsel  on  Animals." 

1  Birch  MSS.  Brit.  Mus.  4353. 
~  This  hook  was  published. 

VOL.  T.  15 

114  1HE    LIFE    OF 

1738.      J  must  not  omit  to  mention,  that  this  Mr.  Macbear* 

<Etat.  was  a  native  °1  Scotland. 

39.  In  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  of  this  year,  Johnson 
gave  a  Life  of  Father  Paul  ;*  and  he  wrote  the  Pre- 
face to  the  Vrolume,f  which,  though  prefixed  to  it 
when  bound,  is  always  published  with  the  Appendix, 
and  is  therefore  the  last  composition  belonging  to  it. 
The  ability  and  nice  adaptation  with  which  he  could 
draw  up  a  prefatory  address,  was  one  of  his  peculiar 

It  appears  too,  that  he  paid  a  friendly  attention  to 
Mrs.  Elizabeth  Carter  ;  for  in  a  letter  from  Mr.  Cave 
to  Dr.  Birch,  November  28,  this  year,  I  find  "  Mr. 
Johnson  advises  Miss  C.  to  undertake  a  translation  of 
Boethius  de  Cons,  because  there  is  prose  and  verse,  and 
to  put  her  name  to  it  when  published."  This  advice 
was  not  followed  ;  probably  from  an  apprehension  that 
the  work  was  not  sufficiently  popular  for  an  extensive 
sale.  How  wellJohnson  himself  could  have  executed 
a  translation  of  this  philosophical  poet,  we  may  judge 
from  the  following  specimen  which  he  has  given  in  the 
Rambler  :  (Motto  to  No.  J.J 

"   O  qui  pcrpetud  mundum  ratione  gubernas^ 

"    Terrarum  ccelique  sator  ! 

"  Disjice  terrence  nebulas  et  pondera  mo/is, 

"  Atque  tuo  splendore  mica  !    Tu  namque  serenum, 

"    Tu  requies  tranquilla  piis.      Te  cernere  finis, 

"  Principium,  vector,  dux,  semita,  terminus,  idem." 

"  O  thou  whose  power  o'er  moving  worlds  presides. 
Whose  voice  created,  and  whose  wisdom  guides, 
On  darkling  man  in  pure  effulgence  shine, 
And  cheer  the  clouded  mind  with  light  divine. 
'Tis  thine  alone  to  calm  the  pious  breast, 
With  silent  confidence  and  holy  rest  ; 
From  thee,  great  God  !  we  spring,  to  thee  we  tend. 
Path,  motive,  guide,  original,  and  end  !" 

In  1739,  beside  the  assistance  which  he  gave  to  the 
Parliamentary  Debates,  his  writings  in  the  Gentleman's 
Magazine  were,  "  The  Life  of  Boerhaave,"*  in  which 






DR.    JOHNSON.  1  15 

it  is  to  be  observed,  that  lie  discovers  that  love  of  chym-  '739. 
istry  which  never  forsook  him  ;  tk  An    Appeal   to  theJJw" 
Publick    in  behalf  of  the   Editor  ;"|   "All    Address    to    30. 
the  Header  \"-\  "  An  Epigram  both  in  Greek  and  Latin 
to  Kliza."*  and  also  English  verses  to    her  ;*   ami,  "  A 
Greek  Epigram  to  Dr.  Birch."*     It  has  been  erroneous- 
ly supposed,  that  an  Essay  published  in  that  Magazine 
this  year,   entitled    "  The  Apotheosis  of  Milton,"  was 
written  by  Johnson  ;  and  on  that  supposition  it  has  been 
improperly  inserted  in  the  edition  of  his  works  by   tin- 
Booksellers,  after  his  decease.     Were  there  no  positive 
testimony  as  to  this  point,  the  style  of  the  performance, 
and  the  name  of  Shakspeare  not   being  mentioned  in 
an  Essay   professedly   reviewing  the  principal   English 
poets,   would  ascertain   it  not  to  be  the  production  of 
Johnson.     But  there   is  here  no  occasion   to  resort  to 
internal   evidence  ;  for  my   Lord   Bishop  of  Salisbury 
(Dr.  Douglas)   has  assured  me,   that  it  was   written  by 
Guthrie.     His  separate   publications  were,  "  A  Com- 
plete Vindication  of  the  Licensers  of  the  Stage,  from 
the  malicious  and  scandalous  Aspersions  of  Mr.  Brooke, 
Authour  of  Gustavus  Vasa,'"*  being  an  ironical  Attack 
upon  them  for  their  Suppression  of  that  Tragedy  ;  and, 
"  Marmor  Norfolciense  ;   or  an  Essay  on  an   ancient 
prophetical    Inscription,    in    monkish     Rhyme,    lately 
discovered   near  Lynne   in  Norfolk,  by  Probus  Brit- 
annictjs."*      In   this  performance,   he,   in  a   feigned 
inscription,   supposed  to  have  been   found  in  Norfolk, 
the  county  of  Sir  Robert  Walpole,  then  the  obnoxious 
prime   minister  of  this  country,   inveighs  against  the 
Brunswick  succession,   and   the  measures    of  govern- 
ment consequent  upon  it.3     To  this  supposed  prophe- 
cy he  added  a  Commentary,  making  each  expression 
apply  to  the  times,  with  warm  Anti-Hanoverian  zeal. 

This  anonymous  pamphlet,  I  believe,  did  not  make 
so  much  noise  as  was  expected,  and,  therefore,  had  not 
a  very  extensive  circulation.  Sir  John  Hawkins  relates, 
that  "  warrants  were  issued,  and  messengers  employ*  d 
to  apprehend  the  authour  ;  who,  though  he  had  forborne 

,'  The  Inscription  and  the  Translation  of  it  are  preserved  in  the  London  Maga- 
zine for  the  vear  17V.9,  p.  241. 

116  THE    LIFE    OF 

1739.  to  subscribe  his  name  to  the  pamphlet,  the  vigilance  of 
#TtaT  tnose  m  pursuit  of  him  had  discovered  ;"  and  we  are 
30.  informed,  that  he  lay  concealed  in  Lambeth-marsh  till 
the  scent  after  him  grew  cold.  Litis,  however,  is  alto- 
gether without  foundation  ;  for  Mr.  Steele,  one  of  the 
Secretaries  of  the  Treasury,  who  amidst  a  variety  of 
important  business,  politely  obliged  me  with  his  atten- 
tion to  my  enquiry,  informed  me,  that  "  he  directed 
every  possible  search  to  be  made  in  the  records  of  the 
Treasury  and  Secretary  of  State's  Office,  but  could  find 
no  trace  whatever  of  any  warrant  having  been  issued 
to  apprehend  the  authour  of  this  pamphlet." 

"  Marmor  Norfolciense"  became  exceedingly  scarce, 
so  that  I,  for  many  years  endeavoured  in  vain  to  pro- 
cure a  copy  of  it.  At  last  1  was  indebted  to  the  malice 
of  one  of  Johnson's  numerous  petty  adversaries,  who, 
in  177«5,  published  a  new  edition  of  it,  "  with  Notes 
and  a  Dedication  to  Samuel  Johnson,  LL.  D.  by 
Tribunus  ;"  in  which  some  puny  scribbler  invidious- 
ly attempted  to  found  upon  it  a  charge  of  inconsistency 
against  its  authour,  because  he  had  accepted  of  a  pen- 
sion from  his  present  Majesty,  and  had  written  in  sup- 
port of  the  measures  of  government.  As  a  mortifica- 
tion to  such  impotent  malice,  of  which  there  are  so  ma- 
ny instances  towards  men  of  eminence,  1  am  happy  to 
relate,  that  this  tclum  imbelle  did  not  reach  its  exalted 
object,  till  about  a  year  after  it  thus  appeared,  when  I 
mentioned  it  to  him,  supposing  that  he  knew  of  the  re- 
publication. To  my  surprise,  he  had  not  yet  heard  of 
it.  He  requested  me  to  go  directly  and  get  it  for  him, 
which  I  did.  He  looked  at  it  and  laughed,  and  seem- 
ed to  be  much  diverted  with  the  feeble  efforts  of  his  un- 
known adversary,  Avho,  1  hope,  is  alive  to  read  this  ac- 
count. "Now  (said  he)  here  is  somebody  who  thinks 
he  has  vexed  me  sadly  ;  yet,  if  it  had  not  been  for  you, 
you  rogue,  I  should  probably  never  have  seen  it." 

As  Mr.  Pope's  note  concerning  Johnson,  alluded  to 
in  a  former  page,  refers  both  to  his  "  London,"  and  his 
"  Marmor  Norfolciense,"  I  have  deferred  inserting  it  till 
now.  I  am  indebted  for  it  to  Dr.  Percy,  the  Bishop  of 
Dromore,  who  permitted  me  to  copy  it  from  the  origi- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  117 

nal  in  his  possession.     It  was  presented  to  his  Lordship  ,/3-(). 
by  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  to  whom  it  wasgiven  by  the  jg^ 
son  of  Mr.  Richardson  the  painter,  the  person  to  whom   jo. 
it  is  addressed.     I  have  transcribed  it  with  minute  ex- 
actness, that  the  peculiar  mode  of  writing,  and  imper- 
fect spelling  of  that  celebrated  poet,  may  be  exhibited  to 
the  curious  in  literature.     It  justifies  Swift's  epithet  of 
'*  paper-sparing  Pope,"  for  it   is   written  on  a  slip  no 
larger  than  a  common  message-card,  and  was  sent  to 
Mr.  Richardson,  along  with  the  imitation  of  Juvenal. 

"  This  is  imitated  by  one  Johnson  who  put  in  for  a 
"  Publick-school  in  Shropshire,4  but  was  disappointed. 
"  He  has  an  infirmity  of  the  convulsive  kind,  that  at- 
"  tacks  him  sometimes,  so  as  to  make  Him  a  sad  Spec- 
"  tacle.  Mr.  P.  from  the  Merit  of  This  Work  which 
"  was  all  the  knowledge  he  had  of  llim  endeavour'd  to 
"serve  Him  without  his  own  application;  &  wrote  to 
"  my  Ld.  gore,  but  he  did  not  succeed.  Mr.  Johnson 
"published  afterwds.  another  Poem  in  Latin  with 
"  Notes  the  whole  very  llumerous  callVl  the  Norfolk 
;:  Prophecy. 

cf   p  » 

Johnson  had  been  told  of  this  note  ;  and  Sir  Joshua 
Reynolds  informed  him  of  the  compliment  which  it 
contained,  but,  from  delicacy,  avoided  shewing  him  the 
paper  itself.  When  Sir  Joshua  observed  to  Johnson 
that  he  seemed  very  desirous  to  see  Pope's  note,  he  an- 
swered, "  Who  would  not  be  proud  to  have  such  a 
man  as  Pope  so  solicitous  in  enquiring  about  him  f" 

The  infirmity  to  which  Mr.  Pope  alludes,  appeared 
to  me  also,  as  I  have  elsewhere 5  observed,  to  be  of  the 
convulsive  kind,  and  of  the  nature  of  that  distemper 
called  St.  Yitus's  dance  ;  and  in  this  opinion  L  am  con- 
firmed by  the  description  which  Sydenham  gives  of  that 
disease.  "This  disorder  is  a  kind  of  convulsion.  It 
manifests  itself  by  halting  or  unsteadiness  of  one  of  the 
legs,  which  the  patient  draws  alter  him  like  an  ideot. 
If  the  hand  of  the  same  side  be  applied  to  the  breast, 

'  Sec  note,  p.  107. 
Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d  edit.  p.  8. 

118  THE    LIFE    OF 

1739.  or  any  other  part  of  the  body,  he  cannot  keep  it  a  mo- 
iEtaT  ment  m  tne  same  posture,  but  it  will  be  drawn  into  a 
30.    different  one  by  a  convulsion,  notwithstanding  all  his 
efforts  to  the  contrary."     Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  howev- 
er, was  of  a  different  opinion,  and  favoured  me  with  the 
following  paper. 

"  Those  motions  or  tricks  of  Dr.  Johnson  are  improp- 
erly called  convulsions.  He  could  sit  motionless,  when 
he  was  told  so  to  do,  as  well  as  any  other  man.  My 
opinion  is,  that  it  proceeded  from  a  habit6  which  he 
had  indulged  himself  in,  of  accompanying  his  thoughts 
with  certain  untoward  actions,  and  those  actions  always 
appeared  to  me  as  if  they  were  meant  to  reprobate  some 
part  of  his  past  conduct.  Whenever  he  was  not  en- 
gaged in  conversation,  such  thoughts  were  sure  to  rush 
into  his  mind  ;  and,  for  this  reason,  any  company,  any 
employment  whatever,  he  preferred  to  being  alone.  The 
great  business  of  his  life  (he  said)  was  to  escape  from 
himself ;  this  disposition  he  considered  as  the  disease 
of  his  mind,  which  nothing  cured  but  company. 

"  One  instance  of  his  absence  and  particularity,  as  it 
is  characteristick  of  the  man,  may  be  worth  relating. 
When  he  and  1  took  a  journey  together  into  the  West, 
we  visited  the  late  Mr.  Banks,  of  Dorsetshire  ;  the  con- 
versation turning  upon  pictures,  which  Johnson  could 
not  well  see,  he  retired  to  a  corner  of  the  room,  stretch- 
ing out  his  right  leg  as  far  as  he  could  reach  before 
him,  then  bringing  up  his  left  leg,  and,  stretching  his 
right  still  further  on.  The  old  gentleman  observing 
him,  went  up  to  him,  and  in  a  very  courteous  manner  as- 
sured him,  though  it  was  not  a  new  house,  the  flooring 
was  perfectly  sate.  The  Doctor  started  from  his  reve- 
rie, like  a  person  waked  out  of  his  sleep,  but  spoke  not 
a  word." 

While  we  are  on  this  subject,  my  readers  may  not 
be  displeased  with  another  anecdote,  communicated  to 
me  by  the  same  friend,  from  the  relation  of  Mr.  Ho- 

6  [Sir  Joshua  Reynolds's  notion  on  this  subject  is  confirmed  by  what  Johnson  him- 
self said  to  a  young  lady,  the  niece  of  his  friend  Christopher  .Smart.  See  a  note  by 
Mr.  Boswell  on  some  particulars  communicated  by  Reynolds,  in  vol.  iii.  under 
March  30,  1783.    M."| 

DR.   JOHNSON.  1  19 

Johnson  used  to  be  a  pretty  frequent  visitor  at  the  1739- 
house  of  Mr.  Richardson,  authour  of  Clarissa,  and  <>th-  j?tat# 
cr  novels  of  extensive  reputation.  Mr.  Hogarth  came  30. 
one  day  to  see  Richardson,  soon  alter  the  «  xecution  of 
Dr.  Cameron,  for  having-  taken  anus  I'm-  the  house  of 
Stuart  in  1745-6;  and  being  a  warm  partisan  of  George 
the  Second,  he  observed  to  Richardson,  that  certainly 
there  must  have  been  some  very  unfavourable  circum- 
stances lately  discovered  in  this  particular  ease,  which 
had  induced  the  King  to  approve  of  an  execution  for 
rebellion  so  long-  after  the  time  when  it  was  committed, 
as  this  had  the  appearance  of  putting  a  man  to  death  in 
cold  blood,7  and  was  very  unlike  his  Majesty's  usual 
clemency.  While  he  was  talking,  he  perceived  a  per- 
son standing  at  a  window  in  the  room,  shaking  his  head, 
and  rolling  himself  about  in  a  strange  ridiculous  man- 
ner.  He  concluded  that  he  was  an  ideot,  whom  his 
relations  had  put  under  the  care  of  Mr.  Richardson,  as 
a  very  good  man.  To  his  great  surprize,  however,  this 
figure  stalked  forwards  to  where  he  and  Mr.  Richard- 
son  were  sitting,  and  all  at  once  took  up  the  argument, 
and  burst  out  into  an  invective  against  George  the 
Second,  as  one,  who,  upon  all  occasions,  was  unrelent- 
ing and  barbarous  ;  mentioning  many  instances,  par- 
ticularly, that  when  an  officer  of  high  rank  had  been 
acquitted  by  a  Court  Martial,  George  the  Second  had 
with  his  own  hand  struck  his  name  off  the  list.  In 
short,  he  displayed  such  a  power  of  eloquence,  that 
Hogarth  looked  at  him  with  astonishment,  and  actually 
imagined  that  this  ideot  had  been  at  the  moment  in- 
spired. Neither  Hogarth  nor  .Johnson  were  made 
known  to  each  other  at  this  interview. 

7  Impartial  posterity  may,  perhaps,  be  as  little  inclined  as  Dr.  Johnson  was,  to 
justify  the  uncommon  rigour  exercised  m  the  case  of  Dr.  Archibald  Cameron. 
He  was  an  amiable  and  truly  honest  man  ;  and  his  offence  was  owing  to  a  gener- 
eus,  though  mistaken  principle  of  duty.  Being  obliged,  alter  1746,  to  give  up  hi.? 
profession  as  a  physician,  and  to  go  into  foreign  parts,  he  was  honoured  with  the 
rank  of  Colonel,both  in  the  French  and  Spanish  service.  He  was  a  son  of  the  ancient 
and  respectable  family  of  Cameron,  ofLochiel ;  and  his  brother,  who  was  the  Chief 
of  that  brave  clan,  distinguished  himself  by  moderation  and  humanity,  while  the 
Highland  army  marched  victorious  through  Scotland.  It  is  remarkable  of  this 
Chief,  that  though  he  had  earnestly  remonstrated  against  the  attempt  as  hopeli 
he  was  of  too  heroick  a  spirit  not  to  venture  his  life  and  fortune  r»  tke  cai : 
when  personally  asked  by  him  whom  he  thought  his  Prin 

120  THE    LIFE    Ofc 

1740.  In  1740  he  wrote  for  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  the 
^J^  "  Preface,"!  " the  Life  of  Admiral  Blake/'*  and  the 
3j.  first  parts  of  those  of  "  Sir  Francis  Drake,"*  and 
"  Philip  Barretier,"*8  both  which  he  finished  the  fol- 
lowing year.  He  also  wrote  an  "  Essay  on  Epitaphs,"* 
and  an  "  Epitaph  on  Phillips,  a  Musician,"*  which  was 
afterwards  published  with  some  other  pieces  of  his,  in 
Mrs.  Williams's  Miscellanies.  This  Epitaph  is  so  ex- 
quisitely beautiful,  that  1  remember  even  Lord  Karnes, 
strangely  prejudiced  as  he  was  against  Dr.  Johnson, 
was  compelled  to  allow  it  very  high  praise.  It  has 
been  ascribed  to  Mr.  Garrick,  from  its  appearing  at  first 
with  the  signature  G ;  but  I  have  heard  Mr.  Garrick 
declare,  that  it  was  written  by  Dr.  Johnson,  and  give 
the  following  account  of  the  manner  in  which  it  was 
composed.  Johnson  and  he  were  sitting  together; 
when,  amongst  other  things,  Garrick  repeated  an  Epi- 
taph upon  this  Phillips  by  a  Dr.  Wilkes,  in  these  words  : 

"  Exalted  soul !  whose  harmony  could  please 
"  The  love-sick  virgin,  and  the  gouty  ease  ; 
ts  Could  jarring  discord,  like  Amphion,  move 
"  To  beauteous  order  and  harmonious  love  ; 
"  Rest  here  in  peace,  till  angels  bid  thee  rise, 
;'  And  meet  thy  blessed  Saviour  in  the  skies." 

Johnson  shook  his  head  at  these  common-place  fu- 
nereal lines,  and  said  to  Garrick,  "  I  think,  Davy,  I  can 
make  a  better."  Then  stirring  about  his  tea  for  a  little 
while,  in  a  state  of  meditation,  he  almost  extempore 
produced  the  following  verses  ; 

"  Phillips,  whose  touch  harmonious  could  remove 
"  The  pangs  of  guilty  power  or  hapless  love ; 
"  Rest  here,  distress'd  by  poverty  no  more, 
"  Here  find  that  calm  thou  gav'st  so  oft  before  ; 
"  Sleep,  undisturb'd,  within  this  peaceful  shrine, 
"  Till  angels  wake  thee  with  a  note  like  thine  !"9 

6  [To  which  in  1 742  he  made  very  large  additions,  which  have  never  yet  been 
incorporated  in  any  edition  of  Barretier 's  Life.    A.  C] 

9  [The  epitaph  of  Phillips  is  in  the  porch  of  Wolverhampton  church.    The 
prose  part  of  it  is  curious  : 

DR.    JOHNSON.  12] 

At  the  same  time  that  Mr.  ( rarrick  favoured  me  with  17*0. 
this  anecdote,  he  repeated  a  very   pointed   Epigram  by  ],t;^ 
Johnson,   on   George  the  Second  and  Colley  Cibber,   31. 
which   has  never  yet  appeared,  and  of  which  1  know 
not  the  exact  date.     Dr.  Johnson  afterwards  gave  it  to 
me  himself: 

"  Augustus  still  survives  in  Mare's  strain, 
"  And  Spenser's  verse  prolongs  Eliza's  rei^n  ; 
"  Great  George's  acts  let  tuneful  (Jibber  sing; 
"  For  Nature  form'd  the  Poet  for  the  King." 

In  1741  he  wrote  for  the  Gentleman's  Magazine 
"  the  Preface,"f  "  Conclusion  of  his  lives  of  Drake  and 
Barretier,"*  "  A  free  translation  of  the  Jests  of  lliero- 
cles,  with  an  Introduction  ;"f  and,  1  think,  the  follow- 
ing pieces :  "  Debate  on  the  Proposal  of  parliament  to 
Cromwell,  to  assume  the  Title  of  King,  abridged, 
modified,  and  digested  ;"f  "  Translation  of  Abbe  Guv- 
on's  Dissertation  on  the  Amazons  ;"f  "  Translation  of 
Fontenelle's  Panegyrick  on  Dr.  Morin."f  Two  notes 
upon  this  appear  to  me  undoubtedly  his.  He  this 
year,  and  the  two  following,  wrote  the  Parliamentary 

"  Near  this  place  lies 

Charles  Claudius  Phillips, 

Whose  absolute  contempt  of  riches 

and  inimitable  performances  upon  the  violin, 

made  him   the  admiration  of  all  that   knew  him. 

He  was  born  in  Wales, 

made  the  tour  of  Europe, 

and,  after  the  experience  of  both  kinds  of  fortune, 

Died  in  1732." 

Mr.  Garrick  appears  not  to  have  recited  the  verses  correctly,  the  original  being  as 
follows.     One  of  the  various  readings  is  remarkable,  as  it  is  the  germ  of  Johnson'.- 

Concluding  line  : 

"  Exalted  soul,  thy  -various  sounds  could  please 
"  The  love-sick    virgin,  and  the  gouty  ease  ; 
"  Could  jarring  croivds,  like  old  Amphion,  move 
"  To  beauteous  order  and  harmonious  love  ; 
"  Rest  here  in  peace,  till  Angels  bid  thee  rise, 
"  And  meet  thy  Saviour's  consort  in  the  skies." 

Dr.  Wilkes,  the  authour  of  these  lines,  was  a  Fellow  of  Trinity  College,  in  Oxford-, 
and  rector  of  Pitchford,  in  Shropshire  :  he  collected  materials  for  a  history  ol 
that  county,  and  is  spoken  of  by  Brown  Willis,  in  his  History  of  Mitred  Abbies. 
vol.  ii.  p.  189.  But  he  was  a  native  of  Staffordshire  ;  and  to  the  antiquities  of 
that  county  was  his  attention  chiefly  confined.  Mr.  Shaw  has  had  the  tise  nf  hi« 
papers.     J.  B.] 

VOL.   T  In" 

122  TH£    LIFE    OF 

1741.  Debates.     He  toid  me  himself,  that  he  was  the  sole 
jEtdT  composer  of  them  for  those  three  years  only.     He  was 
32.    not,  however,  precisely  exact  in  his  statement,  which 
he  mentioned  from  hasty  recollection  ;  for  it  is  suffi- 
ciently evident,   that  his  composition  of  them  began 
November  19,  1740,  and  ended  February  23,  1742-3. 

It  appears  from  some  of  Cave's  letters  to  Dr.  Birch, 
that  Cave  had  better  assistance  for  that  branch  of  his 
Magazine,  than  has  been  generally  supposed  ;  and  that 
he  was  indefatigable  in  getting  it  made  as  perfect  as  he 

Thus,  21st  July,  173-5.  "  I  trouble  you  with  the  in- 
closed, because  you  said  you  could  easily  correct  what 

is  here  given  for  Lord  C Id's  speech.     I  beg  you 

will  do  so  as  soon  as  3^011  can  for  me,  because  the  month 
is  far  advanced." 

And  15th  July,  1737-  "  As  vou  remember  the  de- 
bates  so  far  as  to  perceive  the  speeches  already  printed 
are  not  exact,  I  beg  the  favour  that  you  will  peruse  the 
inclosed,  and,  in  the  best  manner  your  memory  will 
serve,  correct  the  mistaken  passages,  or  add  any  thing 
that  is  omitted.  I  should  be  very  glad  to  have  some- 
thing of  the  Duke  of  N le's  speech,  which  would 

be  particularly  of  service. 

"  A  gentleman  has  Lord  Bathurst's  speech  to  add 
something  to." 

And  July  3,  1744,  "  You  will  see  what  stupid,  low, 
abominable  stuff  is  put1  upon  your  noble  and  learned 
friend's1  character, such  as  1  should  quite  reject,  and  en- 
deavour to  do  something  better  towards  doing  justice  to 
the  character.  But  as  I  cannot  expect  to  attain  my  desire 
in  that  respect,  it  would  be  a  great  satisfaction,  as  well 
as  an  honour  to  our  work,  to  have  the  favour  of  the 
genuine  speech.  It  is  a  method  that  several  have  been 
pleased  to  take,  as  I  could  show,  but  I  think  myself 
under  a  restraint.  1  shall  say  so  far,  that  1  have  had 
some  by  a  third  hand,  which  I  understood  well  enough 
to  come  from  the  first ;  others  by  penny-post,  and 
■  rliers  by  the  speakers    themselves,   who    have,  been 

1  I  suppose  in  another  compilation  of  the  same  kind 
Doubtless,  Lord   Hardwick. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  123 

pleased   to  visit  St.  John's  (iate,  and  --how    particulai  i"->. 
marks  of  their  being  pleased."3  ^  ^ 

There  is  no  reason,  I  believe,  to  doubt  the  veracity  jj. 
oftUave.  It  is,  however,  remarkable,  that  none  of 
these  letters  are  in  the  years  during  which  Johnson 
alone  furnished  the  Debates,  and  one  of  them  is  in  the 
very  year  alter  he  ceased  from  that  labour.  Johnson 
told  me,  that  as  soon  as  he  found  that  the  speeches 
were  thought  genuine,  he  determined  that  he  would 
write  no  more  of  them  :  "  for  he  would  not  be  accessary 
to  the  propagation  of  falsehood."  And  such  was  tin 
tenderness  of  his  conscience,  that  a  short  time  before 
his  death  he  expressed  his  regret  for  his  having  been 
the  authour  of  fictions,  which  had  passed  for  realities. 

He  nevertheless  agreed  with  me  in  thinking,  that  the 
debates  which   he   had   framed  were   to   be  valued  as 
orations  upon  questions  of  publick  importance.     Th< 
have  accordingly  been  collected  in  volumes,  properly 
arranged,  and   recommended  to  the  notice   of  parlia- 
mentary speakers  by  a  preface,   written  by  no  inferior 
hand.4     I  must,  however,  observe,  that  although  then 
is  in  those  debates   a   wonderful   store   of  political  in- 
formation, and  very  powerful  eloquence,  I  cannot  agre< 
that  they  exhibit  the  manner  of  each  particular  speaker, 
as  Sir  John   Hawkins  seems  to   think.      But,  indeed. 
what  opinion  can  we  have  of  his  judgement,  and  tast< 
in  publick  speaking,  who  presumes  to  give,  as  the  char- 
acteristicks    of  two    celebrated    orators,     "  the    deep 
mouthed  rancour  of  Pulteney,  and  the  yelping  perti- 
nacity of  Pitt."5 

This  year  1  find  that  his  tragedy  of  Irene  had  been 
for  some  time  ready  for  the  stage,  and  that  his  neces- 
sities made  him  desirous  of  getting  as  much  as  he  could 
for  it,  without  delay  ;  for  there  is  the  following  letter 
from  Mr.  Cave  to  Dr.  Birch,  in  the  same  volume  of 
manuscripts  in  the  British  Museum,  from  which  I 
copied  those  above  quoted.     They  were  most  obligingly 

3  Birch's  MSS.  in  the  British  Museum,  1302. 
4  lam  assured  that  the  editor  is  Mr.  George   Chalmers,  whose   commc 
ivorks  are  well  known  and  esteemed. 

4  Hawkins's  Life  of  Johnson,  p.  100. 

124  THE    LIFE    OF 

1742.  pointed  out  to  me  by  Sir  William  Musgrave,  one  of  the 
2t^  ^urators  °f tnat  noble  repository. 

33-  "  Sept.  9,  1741. 

"  I  have  put  Mr.  Johnson's  play  into  Mr.  Gray's6 
hands,  in  order  to  sell  it  to  him,  if  he  is  inclined  to  buy 
it ;  but  I  doubt  whether  he  will  or  not.  He  would 
dispose  of  the  copy,  and  whatever  advantage  may  be 
made  by  acting  it.  Would  your  society,7  or  any  gen- 
tleman, or  body  of  men  that  you  know,  take  such  a 
bargain  \  He  and  I  are  very  unfit  to  deal  with  theat- 
rical persons.  Fleetwood  was  to  have  acted  it  last  sea- 
son, but  Johnson's  diffidence  or  prevented  it." 
I  have  already  mentioned  that  "  Irene,"  was  not 
brought  into  publick  notice  till  Garrick  was  manager 
of  Drury-lane  theatre. 

In  1742 9  he  wrote  for  the  Gentleman's  Magazine 
the  "  Preface,"-]*  the  "  Parliamentary  Debates  "*  "  Es- 
say on  the  Account  of  the  Conduct  of  the  Duchess  of 
Marlborough,"*  then  the  popular  topick  of  conversa- 
tion. This  Essay  is  a  short  but  masterly  performance. 
We  find  him  in  No.  13  of  his  Rambler,  censuring  a 
profligate  sentiment  in  that  "  Account ;"  and  again  in- 
sisting upon  it  strenuously  in  conversation.1  "  An 
Account  of  the  Life  of  Peter  Burman,"*  I  believe 
chiefly  taken  from  a  foreign  publication  ;  as,  indeed, 
he  could  not  himself  know  much  about  Burman  ; 
"  Additions  to  his  Life  of  Barretier  ;"*  "  The  Life  of 
Sydenham,"*  afterwards  prefixed  to  Dr.  Swan's  edition 
of  his  works  ;  "  Proposals  for  printing  Bibliotheca  Har~ 
leiana,  or  a  Catalogue  of  the  Library  of  the  Earl  of  Ox~ 

6  A  bookseller  of  London, 

"  Not  the  Royal  Society  ;  but  the  Society  for  the  encouragement  of  Learning, 
of  which  Dr.  Birch  was  a  leading  member.  Their  object  was,  to  assist  authours  in 
printing  expensive  works.  It  existed  from  about  1735  to  1746,  when,  having  in- 
curred a  considerable  debt,  it  was  dissolved. 

e  There  is  no  erasure  here,  but  a  mere  blank  ;  to  fill  up  which  may  be  an  ex- 
ercise for  ingenious  conjecture. 

9  [From  one  of  his  letters  to  a  friend,  written  in  June  1742,  it  should  seem  that 
he  then  purposed  to  write  a  play  on  the  subject  of  Charles  theTwelfth,  of  Sweden, 
and  to  have  it  ready  for  the  ensuing  winter.  The  passage  alluded  to,  however, 
is  somewhat  ambiguous ;  and  the  work  which  he  then  had  in  contemplation  may 
have  been  a  history  of  that  monarch.     M.] 

1  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d.  edit.  p.  167. 

nit.   JOHNSON.  12o 

ford/'*     His  account  of  that  celebrated  collection  of  1742. 
books,  in  which  lie  displays  the  importance  to  litera-  yA~^ 
ture,  of  what  the  French  call  a  catalogue  raisonne,  when   33. 
the   subjects  of  it  are  extensive  and  various,  and  it  is 
executed  with   ability,   cannot  fail   to   impress   all   his 
readers  with  admiration  of  his  philological  attainment 
It  was  afterwards  prefixed  to  the  first  volume   of  the 
Catalogue,  in  which  the  Latin  accounts  of  books  were 
written  by  him.     He  was  employed  in  this  business  b 
Mr.  Thomas  Osborne  the  bookseller,  who  purchased 
the  library  for  £  13,000,  a  sum  which  Mr.  Oldys  says,  in 
one  of  his  manuscripts,  was  not  more  than  the  binding 
of  the  books  had  cost ;  yet,  as  Dr.  Johnson  assured  me, 
the  slowness  of  the  sale  was  such,   that  there  was  not 
much  gained  by  it.     It  has   been   confidently  related, 
with    many   embellishments,    that   Johnson   one    day 
knocked  Osborne  down  in  his  shop,  with  a  folio,   and 
put   his  foot  upon  his  neck.     The  simple  truth    I  had 
from  Johnson  himself.     "  Sir,  he  was  impertinent  to 
me,  and  I  beat  him.     But  it  was  not  in  his  shop:  it 
was  in  my  own  chamber." 

A  very  diligent  observer  may  trace  him  where  we 
should  not  easily  suppose  him  to  be  found.  I  have  no 
doubt  that  he  wrote  the  little  abridgement  entitled 
"  Foreign  History,"  in  the  Magazine  for  December. 
To  prove  it,  I  shall  quote  the  Introduction.  "  As  this 
is  that  season  of  the  year  in  which  Nature  may  be  said 
to  command  a  suspension  of  hostilities,  and  which 
seems  intended,  by  putting  a  short  stop  to  violence 
and  slaughter,  to  afford  time  for  malice  to  relent,  and 
animosity  to  subside ;  we  can  scarce  expect  any  other 
account  than  of  plans,  negociations  and  treaties,  of  pro- 
posals for  peace,  and  preparations  for  war."  As  also 
this  passage  :  "Let  those  who  despise  the  capacity  of 
the  Swiss,  tell  us  by  what  wonderful  policy,  or  by  what 
happy  conciliation  of  interests,  it  is  brought  to  pass, 
that  in  a  body  made  up  of  different  communities  and 
different  religions,  there  should  be  no  civil  commo- 
tions,  though  the  people  are  so  warlike,  that  to  nomi- 
nate and  raise  an  army  is  the  same." 

126  THE    LIFE    OF 

J742.       I  am  obliged  to  Mr.  Astle  for  his  ready  permission 

^^  to  copy  the  two  following  letters,  of  which  the  origin- 

33,'als  are   in  his  possession.     Their  contents  shew  that 

they  were  written  about  this  time,  and  that  Johnson 

was  now  engaged  in  preparing  an  historical  account  of 

the  British  Parliament. 

"  TO  MR.  CAVE. 

"  sir,  [No  dafe.'] 

"  I  believe  I  am  going  to  write  a  long  letter, 
and  have  therefore  taken  a  whole  sheet  of  paper.  The 
first  thing  to  be  written  about  is  our  historical  design. 

"  You  mentioned  the  proposal  of  printing  in  num- 
bers, as  an  alteration  in  the  scheme,  but  I  believe  you 
mistook,  some  way  or  other,  my  meaning  ;  1  had  no 
other  view  than  that  you  might  rather  print  too  many 
of  five  sheets,  than  of  five  and  thirty. 

"  With  regard  to  what  I  shall  say  on  the  manner  of 
proceeding,  I  would  have  it  understood  as  wholly  indif- 
ferent to  me,  and  my  opinion  only,  not  my  resolution. 
Emptoris  sit  eligere. 

"1  think  the  insertion  of  the  exact  dates  of  the  most 
important  events  in  the  margin,  or  of  so  many  events  as 
may  enable  the  reader  to  regulate  the  order  of  facts 
with  sufficient  exactness,  the  proper  medium  between  a 
journal,  which  has  regard  only  to  time,  and  a  history 
which  ranges  facts  according  to  their  dependence  on 
each  other,  and  postpones  or  anticipates  according  to 
the  convenience  of  narration.  1  think  the  work  ought 
to  partake  of  the  spirit  of  history,  which  is  contrary  to 
minute  exactness,  and  of  the  regularity  of  a  journal, 
which  is  inconsistent  with  spirit.  For  this  reason,  1 
neither  admit  numbers  or  dates,  nor  reject  them. 

"  I  am  of  your  opinion  with  regard  to  placing  most  of 
the  resolutions,  &c.  in  the  margin,  and  think  we  shall 
give  the  most  complete  account  of  Parliamentary  pro- 
ceedings that  can  be  contrived.  The  naked  papers, 
without  an  historical  treatise  interwoven,  require  some 
other  book  to  make  them  understood.  I  will  date  the 
succeeding  facts  with  some  exactness,  but  1  think  in 

DR.    JOHNSON.  127 

the  margin.     You  told  me  on  Saturday  that  1  had  re-  174& 
ceived  money  on  this  work,  and  found  set  down  J_  13  y^ 
2s.  6d.  reckoning  the  half  guinea  of  last  Saturday.      As    .,  ;. 
you  hinted  to  me  that  you  had  many  calls  for  money,  1 
would  not  press  you  too  hard,  and  then  fore  shall  desire 
only,  as   I  send  it  in,  two  guineas  for  a  sheet  of  copy  ; 
the  rest  you  may  pay  me  when  it  may  be  more  conv<  n- 
ient  ;  and  even  by  this  sheet-payment  I  shall,  for  some 
time,  be  very  expensive. 

"The  Life  of  Savage  I  am  ready  to  go  upon  ;  and  in 
Great  Primer,  and  Pica  notes,  1  reckon  on  sending  in 
half  a  sheet  a  dav  ;  but  the  money  for  that  shall  like- 
wise  lye  by  in  your  hands  till  it  is  done.  With  the 
debates,  shall  not  1  have  business  enough  I  if  1  had 
but  good  pens. 

"  Towards  Mr.  Savage's  Life  what  more  have  you 
got  I  1  would  willingly  have  his  trial,  &c.  and  know 
whether  his  defence  be  at  Bristol,  and  would  have  his 
collection  of  poems,  on  account  of  the  Preface  ; — 
"  The  Plain  Dealer,"1 — all  the  magazines  that  have  any 
thing  of  his  or  relating  to  him. 

"  1  thought  my  letter  would  be  long,  but  it  is  now- 
ended  ;  and  1  am,  Sir, 

"  Your's,  &c. 

';  Sam.  Johnson/' 

"The boy  found  me  writing  this  almost  in  the  dark, 
when  I  could  not  quite  easily  read  yours. 

"  I  have  read  the  Italian  : — nothing  in  it  is  well. 

"  I  had  no  notion  of  having  any  thing  for  the  Inscrip- 
tion.* I  hope  you  don't  think  1  kept  it  to  extort  a 
price.  I  could  think  of  nothing,  till  to  day.  If  you 
could  spare  me  another  guinea  for  the  history,  L  should 
take  it  very  kindly,  to-night;  but  if  you  do  not,  1  shall 
not  think  it  an  injury. i  am  almost  well  again." 

2  "  The  Plain  Dealer"  was  published   in  1724,  and  contained  some  account  ot 

'  TPerhaps  the  Ruuick  Inscription.  C  !  '    f.  vol,  xii.  p.  IS2.     M.} 

128  THE    LIFE    0L 

"  TO  MR.  CAVE. 

34.  SIR> 

"  You  did  not  tell  me  your  determination  about 
the  Soldier's  Letter  S  which  1  am  confident  was  never 
printed.  I  think  it  will  not  do  by  itself,  or  in  any  oth- 
er place,  so  well  as  the  Mag.  Extraordinary.  If  you 
will  have  it  all,  I  believe  you  do  not  think  I  set  it 
high,  and  I  will  be  glad  if  what  you  give,  you  will  give 

"  You  need  not  be  in  care  about  something  to  print, 
for  I  have  got  the  State  Trials,  and  shall  extract  Layer, 
Atterbury,  and  Macclesfield  from  them,  and  shall  bring 
them  to  you  in  a  fortnight ;  after  which  1  will  try  to 
get  the  South  Sea  Report." 

[No  date,  nor  signature^ 

I  would  also  ascribe  to  him  an  "  Essay  on  the  De- 
scription of  China,  from  the  French  of  Du  Halde."f 

His  writings  in  the  Gentleman^s  Magazine  in  1743, 
are,  the  Preface, -j-  the  Parliamentary  Debates, j-  "Con- 
siderations on  the  Dispute  between  Crousaz  and  War- 
burton,  on  Pope's  Essay  on  Man  ;"f  in  which,  while 
he  defends  Crousaz,  he  shews  an  admirable  metaphys- 
ical acuteness  and  temperance  in  controversy  ;  Ad 
Lauram  parituram  Epigramma*  ;"*  and,  "  A  Latin 
Translation  of  Pope's  Verses  on  his  Grotto  ;"*  and,  as 

'  I  have  not  discovered  what  this  was. 

4  Angliacas  inter  pulcberrima  Laura  pucllas, 

Mox  uteri  pnndus  depesitura  grave, 
Adsit,  Laura,  tibifacilis  Lucina  dolenti, 
JYcve  tibi  noceat  pranituisse  Dea. 
Mr.  Hector  was  present  when  this  Epigram  was  made  impromptu.    The  first  line 
was  proposed  by  Dr.  James,  and  Johnson  was  called  upon  by  the  company  to  fin- 
ish it,  which  he  instantly  did. 

[The  following  elegant  Latin  Ode,  which   appeared  in  the  Gentleman's  Maga- 
zine for  1743.  (vol.  xiii.  p.  548,;  was  many  years  ago   pointed  out  to  James  Bind- 
ley, Esq.  as  written  by  Johnson,  and  may  safely  be  attributed  to  him. 
Van ;f.  sit  arti,  sit  studio  modus, 

Formosa  virgo  :  sit  speculo  quies, 
Curamque   quserendi  decoris 

Mitte,  supervacuosque  cultus. 
Ut  fortuitis  verna  coloribus 
Depicta  vulgo  rura  magis  placent, 
Nee  invident  horto  nitenti 
Oivitias  operosiores  : 

DR.    JOHNSON.  129 

he  could  employ  his  pen  with   equal  success  upon  a  17*3. 
small  matter  as  a  great,  L   suppose  him  to  he  the  an-  J^ 
thour  of  an  advertisement  for  Osborne,  concerning  the    34, 
great  Haxleian  Catalogue. 

But  I  should  think  myself  much  wanting,  both  to 
my  illustrious  friend  and  my  readers,  did  1  not  intro- 
duce here,  with  more  than  ordinary  respect,  an  exquis- 
itely beautiful  Ode,  which  has  not  been  inserted  in 
any  of  the  collections  of  Johnson's  poetry,  written  by 
him  at  a  very  early  period,  as  Air.  Hector  informs  me, 
and  inserted  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  of  this  year. 

Friendship,  an  Ode.* 

Friendship,  peculiar  boon  of  heav'n, 

The  noble  mind's  delight  and  pride. 
To  men  and  angels  only  giv'n, 

To  all  the  lower  world  deny'd. 

Lenique  fons  cum  murmure  pulchrior 
Obliquat  ultro  praecipitem  fugam 
Inter  reluctantes  lapillos,  et 
Ducit  aquas  temere  sequentes: 

Utque  inter  undas,  inter  et  arbores, 
Jam  vere  primo  dulce  strepunt  aves, 
Et  arte  nulla  gratiores 

Ingeminant  sine  lege  cantus  : 

Nativa  sic  te  gratia,  te  niror 
Simplex  decebit,  te  veneres  tuae ; 
Nudus  Cupido  suspicatur 
Artifices  nimis  apparatus. 

Ergo  fluentem  tu,  male  sedula, 
Ne  savva  inuras  semper  acu  comam 
Nee  sparsa  odorato  nitentes 
Pulvere  dedecores  capillos  ; 

Quales  nee  olim  vel  Ptolemreia 
Jactabat  uxor,  sidereo  in  choro 
Utcunque  devotae  refulgent 
Verticis  exuviae  decori  ; 

Nee  diva  mater,  cum  similem  ture 
Mentita  formara,  et  pulchrior  aspici, 
Permisit  incomtas  protervis 
Fusa  comas  agitare  vends. 

in  vol.  xiv.  p.  46,  of  the  same  work,  an  elegant  Epigram  was  inserted,  in  amw«r  K 
the  foregoing  Ode,  which  was  written  by  Dr.  Inyon  of  Norfolk,  a  physicj  in,  and 
an  excellent  classical  scholar  : 

AdAuthorem  Carm'tnh  ad  OrNATISSIMAM  Pi-ei  r  >  U 
O  cui  non  potuit,  quia  culta,  placere  puella, 
Qui  speras  Musam  posse  placi      mam       v 

VOL.   I.  17 

130  THE    LIFE    OF 

1743.      While  love  unknown  among  the  blest, 
flfc^s  Parent  of  thousand  wild  desires, 

34.        The  savage  and  the  human  breast 

Torments  alike  with  raging  fires  ; 

With  bright,  but  oft  destructive,  gleam, 

Alike  o'er  all  his  lightnings  fly  ; 
Thy  lambent  glories  only  beam 

Around  the  fav'rites  of  the  sky. 

Thy  gentle  flows  of  guiltless  joys 
On  fools  and  villains  ne'er  descend  : 

fu  vain  for  thee  the  tyrant  sighs, 
And  hugs  a  flatterer  for  a  friend. 

Directress  of  the  brave  and  just, 

O  guide  us  through  life's  darksome  way  ! 

And  let  the  tortures  of  mistrust 
On  selfish  bosoms  only  prey. 

Nor  shall  thine  ardour  cease  to  glow, 
When  souls  to  blissful  climes  remove  ; 

What  rais'd  our  virtue  here  below, 
Shall  aid  our  happiness  above. 

Johnson  had  now  an  opportunity  of  obliging  his 
schoolfellow  Dr.  James,  of  whom  he  once  observed, 
"  no  man  brings  more  mind  to  his  profession."  James 
published  this  year  his  "  Medicinal  Dictionary,"  in 
three  volumes  folio.  Johnson,  as  I  understood  from 
him,  had  written,  or  assisted  in  writing,  the  proposals 
for  this  work  ;  and  being  very  fond  of  the  study  of 
physick,  in  which  James  was  his  master,  he  furnished 
some  of  the  articles.  He,  however,  certainly  wrote  for 
it  the  Dedication  to  Dr.  Mead,|  which  is  conceived 
with  great  address,  to  conciliate  the  patronage  of  that 
very  eminent  man.5 

5  "  TO     DR.  MEAB. 
"  SIR, 

"  That  the  Medicinal  Dictionary  is  dedicated  to  you,  is  to  be  imputed  only  to 
your  reputation  for  superiour  skill  in  those  iciences  which  I  have  endeavoured  to 
explain  and  facilitate  :  and  you  are,  therefore,  to  consider  this  address,  if  it  be 
agreeable  to  you,  as  one  of  the  rewards  of  merit  ;  and  if,  otherwise,  as  one  of  the 
inconveniencies  of  eminence, 

DR.    JOHNSON.  I.J1 

It  has  been  circulated,  I  know  not  with  what  authen-  1743. 
ticity,  that  Johnson  considered  J)r.  Birch  as  a  dull  £;tat( 
writer,  and  said  of  him,  "Tom   Birch  is  as  brisk  as  a    34, 

bee  in  conversation  ;  but  no  sooner  docs  he  take  a 
pen  in  his  hand,  than  it  becomes  a  torpedo  to  him,  and 
benumbs  all  his  faculties."  That  the  literature  of  this 
country  is  much  indebted  to  Birch's  activity  and  dili- 
gence must  certainly  be  acknowledged.  We  have 
seen  that  Johnson  honoured  him  with  a  Greek  Epi- 
gram ;  and  his  correspondence  with  him,  during  many 
years,  proves  that  he  had  no  mean  opinion  of  him. 

"  TO   DR.  BIRCH. 

"  sir,  "  Thursday,  Sept.  29,  1743. 

"  I  hope  you  will  excuse  me  for  troubling  you  on 
an  occasion  on  which  1  know  not  whom  else  1  can  ap- 
ply to  ;  I  am  at  a  loss  for  the  Lives  and  Characters  of 
Earl  Stanhope,  the  two  Craggs,  and  the  minister  Sun- 
derland ;  and  beg  that  you  will  inform  [me]  where  I 
may  find  them,  and  send  any  pamphlets,  &c.  relating 
to  them  to  Mr.  Cave  to  be  perused  for  a  few  days  by, 

"  Your  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

His  circumstances  were  at  this  time  embarrassed  : 
yet  his  affection  for  his  mother  was  so  warm,  and  so 
liberal,  that  he  took  upon  himself  a  debt  of  hers,  which, 
though  small  in  itself,  was  then  considerable  to  him. 
This  appears  from  the  following  letter  which  he  wrote 
to  Mr.  Levett,  of  Lichfield,  the  original  of  which  li 
now  before  me. 

4i  TO  MR.  LEVETT  ;    IN   LICHFIELD. 

"sir,  "December  1,  17*3' 

"I  am  extremelv  sorry  that   we  have  encroached 

so  much  upon  your  forbearance  with  respect  to  the  id- 

"  However  you  shall  receive  it,  my  design  cannot  be  disappointed  ;  because 
this  publick  appeal  to  your  judgement  will  shew  that  I  do  not  found  my  hopes  of 
approbation  upon  the  ignorance  of  my  readers,  and  that  I  fear  his  censure  least, 
whose  knowledge  i-  most  extensive.     I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obedient  humble  servant, 

"  R.  James:" 

132  THE    LIFE    OF 

1744.  terest,  which  a  great  perplexity  of  affairs  hindered  me 
Star  fr°m  thinking  0f  with  that  attention  that  I  ought,  and 
35,  '  which  I  am  not  immediately  able  to  remit  to  you,  but 
will  pay  it  (1  think  twelve  pounds,)  in  two  months.  I 
look  upon  this,  and  on  the  future  interest  of  that  mort- 
gage, as  my  own  debt  ;  and  beg  that  you  will  be  pleas- 
ed to  give  me  directions  how  to  pay  it,  and  not  men- 
tion it  to  my  dear  mother.  If  it  be  necessary  to  pay 
this  in  less  time,  I  believe  I  can  do  it  ;  but  I  take  two 
months  for  certainty,  and  beg  an  answer  whether  you 
can  allow  me  so  much  time.  I  think  myself  very  much 
obliged  to  your  forbearance,  and  shall  esteem  it  a  great 
happiness  to  be  able  to  serve  you.  I  have  great  oppor- 
tunities of  dispersing  any  thing  that  you  may  think  it 
proper  to  make  publick.  I  will  give  a  note  for  the  mon- 
ey, payable  at  the  time  mentioned,  to  any  one  here 
that  you  shall  appoint.     I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obedient 

"And  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 
;'  At  Mr.  Osborne's,  bookseller,  in  Graifs  Inn. 

It  does  not  appear  that  he  wrote  any  thing  in  17  1 
for  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  but  the  Preface. -\  His 
life  of  Barretier  was  now  re-published  in  a  pamphlet  by 
itself.  But  he  produced  one  work  this  year,  fully  suf- 
ficient to  maintain  the  high  reputation  which  he  had 
acquired.  This  was  "The  Life  of  Richard  Sav- 
age ;"*  a  man,  of  whom  it  is  difficult  to  speak  impar- 
tially, without  wondering  that  he  was  for  some  time 
the  intimate  companion  of  Johnson  ;  for  his  character6 

6  As  a  specimen  of  his  temper,  I  insert  the  following  letter  from  him  f  o  a  nob!? 
Lord,  to  whom  he  was  under  great  obligations,  but  who,  on  account  of  Ms  bad 
conduct,  was  obliged  to  discard  him.  The  original  was  in  the  hands  of  the  late 
Francis  Cockayne  Cust,  Esq.  one  of  his  Majesty's  Counsel  learned  in  the  law  : 

"  Right  Honourable  Brute,  and ' BooBY, 

"  I  find  you  want  (as  Mr. is  pleased  to  hint,;  to  swear  away  my  life 

that  is,  the  life  of  your  creditor,  because  he  asks  you  for  a  debt. — The  publick  shall 
soon  be  acquainted  with  this,  to  judge  whether  you  are  not  fitter  to  be  an  Irish 
Fvidence,  than  to  be  an  Irish  Peer. — I  defy  and  despise  you. 

"  1  am, 

"  Your  determined  adversaiy, 

«  r.  s: 



was  marked  by  profligacy,  insolence,  and  ingratitude:  1744. 
yet,   as   he  undoubtedly  had   a  warm  and  vigorous,  J 

though  unregulated  mind,  had  seen  li{<>  in  all  its  • 
ties,  and  been  much  in  the  company  of  the  Stat<  sun  n 
and  wits  of  his  time,  he  could  communicate  to  John- 
son an  abundant  supply  of  such  materials  as  his  philo- 
sophical curiosity  most  eagerly  desired  ;  and  as  Sava 
misfortunes  and  misconduct  had  reduced  him  to  the 
lowest  state  of  wretchedness  as  a  writer  for  bread,  his 
visits  to  St.  John's  Gate  naturally  brought  Johnson  and 
him  together.7 

It  is  me]ancholv  to  reflect,  that  Johnson  and  Saw   i 
were  sometimes  m  such  extreme  indigence,8  that  thev 
could  not  pay  for  a  lodging  ;  so  that  they  have  wander- 
ed together  whole  nights  in  the  streets.9      Yet  in  these 

-  Sir  John  Hawkins  gives  the  world  to  understand,  that  Johnson,  "  being  an  ad- 
oiirer  of  genteel  manners,  was  captivated  by  the  address  and  demeanour  of  S.r  - 
age,  who,  as  to  his  exterior,  was  to  a  remarkable  degree  accomplished." — Haw- 
kins's Life,  p.  52.  But  Sir  John's  notions  of  gentility  must  appear  somewhat  lu- 
dicrous, from  his  stating  the  following  circumstance  as  presumptive  evidence  that 
Savage  was  a  good  swordsman  :  "  That  he  understood  the  exercise  of  a  gentle- 
man's weapon,  may  be  inferred  from  the  use  made  of  it  in  that  rash  encountc r 
which  is  related  in  his  life."  The  dexterity  here  alluded  to  was,  that  Savage,  in 
a  nocturnal  fit  of  drunkenness,  stabbed  a  man  at  a  coffee-house,  and  killed  him 
for  which  he  was  tried  at  the  Old-Bailey,  and  found  guilty  of  murder. 

Johnson,  indeed,  describes  him  as  having  "  a  grave  and  manly  deportment,  a  sol- 
emn dignity  of  mien  ;  but  which,  upon  a  nearer  acquaintance,  softened  into  an 
■  ■ngaging  easiness  of  manners."  How  highly  Johnson  admired  him  lor  that  knowl- 
edge which  he  himself  so  much  cultivated,  and  what  kindness  he  entertained  for 
iiim,  appears  from  the  following  lines  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  for  April, 
1 738,  which  1  am  assured  were  written  by  Johnson  : 

"  y&/ Ricardum   Savage. 

"  Humani  studium  generis  cut  pectore  jfttrv 
"  0  colat  bumanum    te  foveatquc  genus." 

8  [The  following   striking  proof  of  Johnson's  extreme  indigence,  when  he  | 
i^hed  the    Life  of  Savage,  was    communicated  to    Mr.  Boswell,    by  Mr.   Richard 
Stowe,  of  Apsley,  in  Bedfordshire,  from  the  information  of  Mr.  Walter  Harte,  au 
;hor  of  the  Life  of  Gustavus  Adolphus  : 

"  Soon  after  Savage's  Life  was  published,  Mr.  Harte  dined  with  Edward  Civr. 
and  occasionly  praised  it.  Soon  after,  meeting  him,  Cave  said,  '  You  made  a  man 
verv  happy  t'other  day.' — 'How  could  that  be,'  says  Harte  ;  '  nobody  w.i 
but  ourselves.'  Cave  answered,  by  reminding  him  that  a  plate  of  victual--  v. 
behind  a  screen,  which  was  to  Johnson,  dressed  so  shabbily,  that  he  did  not  choo  ! 
to  appear  ;  but  on  hearing  the  conversation,  he  was  highly  delighted  with  the 
encomiums  on  his  book"     M.] 

[As   Johnson  was  married  before  he  settled  in  London,  and  must  have?  ;•.'- 
ways   had    a  habitation  for  his  wife,  some  readers  have  wondered,  howl), 
could  have  been  driven  to -.troll  about  with  Savage,  all  (tight,  for  want  < 
mg.     But  itshouldbe  remembered,  that  Johnson,  at  different   periods,  had 
ings  in   the  vicinity  of  London  ;    and  his   finances   certainly  would  not   adnv 
vf  a  double  establishment.     When;  therefore,  he  spent  a  convivial  day  in  La 

134  KtiE    LIFE    OF 

1744.  almost  incredible  scenes  of  distress,  we  may  suppose- 
jEtaT  tnat  Savage  mentioned  many  of  the    anecdotes  with 
35.  '  which  Johnson  afterwards  enriched  the  life  of  his  un- 
happy companion,  and  those  of  other  Poets. 

He  told  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  that  one  night  in  par- 
ticular, when  Savage  and  he  walked  round  St.  Jameses- 
Square  for  want  of  a  lodging,  they  were  not  at  all  de- 
pressed by  their  situation  ;  but  in  high  spirits  and 
brimful  of  patriotism,  traversed  the  square  for  several 
hours,  inveighed  against  the  minister,  and  "  resolved 
they  would  stand  bij  their  country" 

1  am  afraid,  however,  that  by  associating  with  Savage, 
who  was  habituated  to  the  dissipation  and  licentious- 
ness of  the  town,  Johnson,  though  his  good  principles 
remained  steady,  did  not  entirely  preserve  that  conduct, 
for  which,  in  days  of  greater  simplicity,  he  was  re- 
marked by  his  friend  Mr.  Hector  ;  but  was  impercept- 
ibly led  into  some  indulgencies  which  occasioned  much 
distress  to  his  virtuous  mind. 

That  Johnson  was  anxious  that  an  authentick  and 
favourable  account  of  his  extraordinary  friend  should 
first  get  possession  of  the  publick  attention,  is  evident 
from  a  letter  which  he  wrote  in  the  Gentleman's  Mag- 
azine for  August  of  the  year  preceding  its  publication. 

"  MR.  URBAN, 

"  As  your  collections  show  how  often  you  hav< 
owed  the  ornaments  of  your  poetical  pages  to  the  cor- 
respondence of  the  unfortunate  and  ingenious  Mr.  Sav- 
age, I  doubt  not  but  you  have  so  much  regard  to  his 
memory  as  to  encourage  any  design  that  may  have  a 
tendency  to  the  preservation  of  it  from  insults  or  cal- 
umnies ;  and  therefore,  with  some  degree  of  assurance, 
intreat  you  to  inform  the  publick,  that  his  life  will 
speedily  be  published  by  a  person   who  was   favoured 

and  found  it  too  late  to  return  to  any  country  residence  he  may  occasionally  have 
had.  having  no  lodging  in  town,  he  was  obliged  to  pass  the  night  in  the  manner 
described  above  ;  for,  though  at  that  period,  it  was  not  uncommon  for  two  men 
to  sleep  together,  Savage,  it  appears,  could  accommodate  him  with  nothing  but  his 
company  in  the  open  air. — The  Epigram  given  abeve,  which  doubtless  was  writ- 
en  by  Johnson,  shews.that  their  acquaintance  commenced  before  April,  1738.  See 
p.  103,  n.  M.j 

Dll.   JOHNSON.  {,:._> 

with  his  confidence,  and  received  From  himself  an  ac-  '744. 
count  of  most  of  the  transactions  which  he  proposes  t<>  JJ  *? 
mention,  to  the  time  of  his  retirement  to  Swansea  in   35 

"  From  that  period,  to  his  death  in  the  prison  of 
Bristol,  the  account  will  be  continued  from  materials 
still  less  liable  to  objection;  his  own  letters,  and  those 
of  his  friends,  some  of  which  will  be  inserted  in  the 
work,  and  abstracts  of  others  subjoined  in  the  margin. 

"  It  may  be  reasonably  imagined,  that  others  may 
have  the  same  design;  but  as  it  is  not  credible  that 
they  can  obtain  the  same  materials,  it  must  be  expected 
they  will  supply  from  invention  the  want  of  intelli- 
gence ;  and  that  under  the  title  of  '  The  Life  of  Sav- 
age/ they  will  publish  only  a  novel,  filled  with  roman- 
tick  adventures,  and  imaginary  amours.  You  may 
therefore,  perhaps,  gratify  the  lovers  of  truth  and  wit, 
by  giving  me  leave  to  inform  them  in  your  Magazine, 
that  my  account  will  be  published  in  8vo.  by  Mr.  Rob- 
erts, in  Warwick-lane." 

[No  signature.'] 

In  February,  1/44,  it  accordingly  came  forth  from 
the  shop  of  Roberts,  between  whom  and  Johnson  I 
have  not  traced  any  connection,  except  the  casual  one 
of  this  publication.  In  Johnson's  "  Life  of  Savage," 
although  it  must  be  allowed  that  its  moral  is  the  re- 
verse of — "  Respicere  exemplar  vitce  morurhttue jubebo" 
a  very  useful  lesson  is  inculcated,  to  guard  men  of 
warm  passions  from  a  too  free  indulgence  of  them  ;  and 
the  various  incidents  are  related  in  so  clear  and  ani- 
mated a  manner,  and  illuminated  throughout  with  so 
much  philosophy,  that  it  is  one  of  the  most  interesting 
narratives  in  the  English  language.  Sir  Joshua  Rey- 
nolds told  me,  that  upon  his  return  from  Italy  he  met 
with  it  in  Devonshire,  knowing  nothing  of  its  authour, 
and  began  to  read  it  while  he  was  standing  with  his 
arm  leaning  against  a  chimney-piece.  It  seized  his 
attention  so,  that,  not  being  able  to  lay  down 
the  book  till  he  had  finished  it,  when  lie  attempted  to 
move,  he  found  his  arm  totallv  benumbed.     The  ra- 

136  THE    LIFE    OF 

!744.  pidity  with  which  this  work  was  composed,  is  a  won- 
2J^  derful  circumstance.  Johnson  has  been  heard  to  say, 
35.  "  I  wrote  forty-eight  of  the  printed  octavo  pages  of  the 
Life  of  Savage  at  a  sitting  ;  but  then  1  sat  up  all  night." z 
He  exhibits  the  genius  of  Savage  to  the  best  ad- 
vantage, in  the  specimens  of  his  poetry  which  he  has 
selected,  some  of  which  are  of  uncommon  merit.  We, 
indeed,  occasionally  find  such  vigour  and  such  point, 
as  might  make  us  suppose  that  the  generous  aid  of 
Johnson  had  been  imparted  to  his  friend.  Mr.  Thomas 
War  ton  made  this  remark  to  me  ;  and,  in  support  of 
it,  quoted  from  the  poem  entitled  "  The  Bastard,"  a 
line  in  which  the  fancied  superiority  of  one  "stamped 
in  Nature's  mint  with  extasy,"  is  contrasted  with  a 
regular  lawful  descendant  of  some  great  and  ancient 
family  : 

"  No  tenth  transmitter  of  a  foolish  face." 

But  the  fact  is  that  this  poem   was   published  som  ■ 
years  before  Johnson  and  Savage  were  acquainted. 

It  is  remarkable,  that  in  this  biographical  disquisition 
there  appears  a  very  strong  symptom  of  Johnson's  prej- 
udice against  players  ;  a  prejudice  which  may  be  at- 
tributed to  the  following  causes  :  first,  the  imperfection 
of  his  organs,  which  were  so  defective  that  he  was  not 
susceptible  of  the  fine  impressions  which  theatrical  ex- 
cellence produces  upon  the  generality  of  mankind  ; 
secondly,  the  cold  rejection  of  his  tragedy  ;  and,  lastly, 
the  brilliant  success  of  Garrick,  who  had  been  his  pupil, 
who  had  come  to  London  at  the  same  time  with  him, 
not  in  a  much  more  prosperous  state  than  himself,  and 
whose  talents  he  undoubtedly  rated  low,  compared 
with  his  own.  His  being  outstripped  by  his  pupil  in 
the  race  of  immediate  fame,  as  well  as  of  fortune, 
probably  made  him  feel  some  indignation,  as  thinking 
that  whatever  might  be  Garrick's  merits  in  his  art,  the 
reward  was  too  great  when  compared  with  what  the 
most  successful  efforts  of  literary  labour  could  attain. 
At  all  periods  of  his  life    Johnson  used  to  talk  con- 

2  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d  edit.  p.  35. 

t)K.  joiinson.  lj; 

temptuously  of  players ;  but  in  this  work  lie  speaks  of  1744. 
them  with  peculiar  acrimony  ;  for  which,  perhaps,  there  "jT,.^ 
was  formerly  too  much  reason  from  the  licentious  and    35. 
dissolute  manners  of  those  engaged  in  thai  profession, 
[t  is  but  justice  to  add,  that   in   our  own   time  such  a 
change  has  taken  place,  that  there  is  no  longer  room 
for  such  an  unfavourable  distinction. 

His  schoolfellow  and  friend,  Dr.  Taylor,  told  me  a 
pleasant  anecdote  of  Johnson's  triumphing  over  his 
pupil,  David  Garrick.  U  hen  that  great  actor  had 
played  some  little  time  at  Goodman's  fields,  Johnson 
and  Taylor  went  to  see  him  perform,  and  afterwards 
passed  the  evening  at  a  tavern  with  him  and  old  Gif- 
fard.  Johnson,  who  was  ever  depreciating  stage-play- 
ers, after  censuring-  some  mistakes  in  emphasis,  which 
Garrick  had  committed  in  the  course  of  that  night's 
acting,  said,  "  the  players,  Sir,  have  got  a  kind  of  rant, 
with  which  they  run  on,  without  any  regard  either  to 
accent  or  emphasis."  Both  Garrick  and  Giffard  were 
offended  at  this  sarcasm,  and  endeavoured  to  refute  it: 
upon  which  Johnson  rejoined,  "Well  now,  I'll  give 
you  something  to  speak,  with  which  you  are  little  ac- 
quainted, and  then  we  shall  see  how  just  my  observa- 
tion is.  That  shall  be  the  criterion.  Letme  hearyou 
repeat  the  ninth  Commandment,  ;-  Thou  shalt  not 
bear  false  witness  against  thy  neighbour."  Both  tried 
at  it,  said  Dr.  Taylor,  and  both  mistook  the  emphasis, 
which  should  be  upon  not  and  false  witness. 3  Johnson 
put  them  right,  and  enjoyed  his  victory  with  great 

His  ';  Life  of  Savage,"  was  no  sooner  published, 
than  the  following  liberal  praise  was  given  to  it,  in 
"The  Champion,"  a  periodical  paper:  '-This  pam- 
phlet is,  without  flattery  to  itsauthour,  as  just  and  well 
written  a  piece  as  of  its  kind  I  ever  saw  ;  so  that  at 
the  same  time  that  it  highly  deserves,  it  certainly 
stands  very  little  in  need  of  this  recommendation.     As 

3 1  suspect  Dr.  Taylor  was  Inaccurate  in  this  statement.  The  empha.w  should 
be  equally  upon  sbalt  and  not,  a.  both  concur  to  form  the  negative  injunction  ; 
and/z/^  -witness,  like  the  other  acts  prohibited  in  the  Decalogue,  should  not  be 
marked  by  any  peculiar  emphasis,  but  only  be  distinctly  enunciated, 

[A  moderate  emphasis  should  be  placed  on  false.     K.] 

VOL.  I.  18 

i36  THE    LIFE    OF 

l/44.  t0  the  history  of  the  unfortunate  person,  whose  me- 
"a^T  moirs  compose  this  work,  it  is  certainly  penned  with 
35.  equal  accuracy  and  spirit,  of  which  1  am  so  much  the 
better  judge,  as  I  know  many  of  the  facts  mentioned 
to  be  strictly  true,  and  very  fairly  related.  Besides,  it 
is  not  only  the  story  of  Mr.  Savage,  but  innumerable 
incidents  relating  to  other  persons,  and  other  affairs, 
which  renders  this  a  very  amusing,  and,  withal,  a  very 
instructive  and  valuable  performance.  The  authour's 
observations  are  short,  significant,  and  just,  as  his  nar- 
rative is  remarkably  smooth,  and  well  disposed.  His 
reflections  open  to  all  the  recesses  of  the  human 
heart ;  and,  in  a  word,  a  more  just  or  pleasant,  a  more 
engaging  or  a  more  improving  treatise,  on  all  the  ex- 
cellencies and  defects  of  human  nature,  is  scarce  to 
be  found  in  our  own,  or  perhaps,  any  other  language."* 
Johnson's  partiality  for  Savage  made  him  entertain 
no  doubt  of  his  story,  however  extraordinary  and  im- 
probable. It  never  occurred  to  him  to  question  his  be- 
ing the  son  of  the  Countess  of  Macclesfield,  of  whose 
unrelenting  barbarity  he  so  loudly  complained,  and  the 
particulars  of  which  are  related  in  so  strong  and  affect- 
ing a  manner  in  Johnson's  Life  of  him.  Johnson  was 
certainly  well  warranted  in  publishing  his  narrative, 
however  offensive  it  might  be  to  the  lady  and  her  re- 
lations, because  her  alledged  unnatural  and  cruel  con- 
duct to  her  son,  and  shameful  avowal  of  guilt,  were 
stated  in  a  Life  of  Savage  now  lying  before  me,  which 
came  out  so  early  as  1727,  and  no  attempt  had  been 
made  to  confute  it,  or  to  punish  the  authour  or  printer 
as  a  libeller  :  but  for  the  honour  of  human  nature,  we 
should  be  glad  to  find  the  shocking  tale  not  true  ;  and 
from  a  respectable  gentleman 5  connected  with  the  lady's 
family,  I  have  received  such  information  and  remarks, 
as  joined  to  my  own  inquiries,  will,  I  think,  render  it 
at  least  somewhat  doubtful,  especially  when  we  con- 

«  This  character  of  the  Life  of  Savage  was  not  written  by  Fielding,  as  has  been 
supposed,  but  most  probably  by  Ralph,  who,  as  appears  from  the  minutes  of  the 
Partners  of '  The  Champion'  in  the  possession  of  Mr.  Reed  of  Staple  Inn,  succeed- 
ed Fielding  in  his  share  of  the  paper,  before  the  date  of  that  eulogium. 

'  The  late  Francis  Cockayne  Cust,  Esc.,  one  of  his  Majesty's  Counsel. 


sider  that  it  must    have   originated   from  the   person  ; 

himself  who  went  by  the  name  of  diehard  Savage.  f  ^ 

....  .        ..  /         .  ...         .  .  * 

Jt  the  maxim,  falsam  in  uno^jalsum  in  omnibus,  were    35. 

to  be  received  without  qualification,  the  credit  of  Sav- 
age's narrative,  as  conveyed  to  us,  would  be  annihilat- 
ed; for  it  contains  some   assertions  which,   beyond 
question,  are  not  true. 

1.  In  order  to  induce  a  belief  that  the  Karl  Rivers, 
on  account  of  a  criminal  connection  with  whom,  Lady 
Macclesfield  is  said  to  have  been  divorced  from  her 
husband,  by  Act  of  Parliament,6  had  a  peculiar  anxiety 
about  the  child  which  she  bore  to  him,  it  is  alledged, 
that  his  Lordship  gave  him  his  own  name,  and  had  it 
duly  recorded  in  the  register  of  St.  Andrew's,  Holborn. 
I  have  carefully  inspected  that  register,  but  n<>  such 
entry  is  to  be  found.7 

2.  It  is  stated,  that  "Lady  Macclesfield  having  lived 
for  some  time  upon  very  uneasy  terms  with  her  hus- 
band,  thought  a  publick  confession   of  adultery   the 

«  1697. 

7  [Mr.  Gust's  reasonings  with  respect  to  the  filiation  of  Richard  Savage,  alwaj 
appeared  to  me  extremely  unsatisfactory  ;  and  is  entirely  overturned  by  the  fol- 
lowing decisive  observations,  for  which  the  reader  is  indebted  to  the  unwearied 
researches  of  Mr.  Bindley. — The  story  on  which  Mr.  Cust  so  much  relies,  that 
Savage  was  a  supposititious  child,  not  the  son  of  Lord  Rivers  and  Lady  Mace' 
field,  but  the  offspring  of  a  shoemaker,  introduced  in  consequence  of  her  real  son's 
death,  was,  without  doubt,  grounded  on  the  circumstance  of  Lady  Macclesfield 
having,  in  1G96,  previously  to  the  birth  of  Savage,  had  a  daughter  by  the  Earl 
Rivers,  who  died  in  her  infancy  :  a  fact,  which,  as  the  same  gentleman  observes 
to  me,  was  proved  in  the  course  of  the  proceedings  on  Lord  Macclesfield's  Bill  of 
Divorce.     Most  fictions  of  this  kind  have  some  admixture  of  truth  in  them.     M.] 

[From  "  the  Earl  of  Macclesfield's  Case,"  which,  in  1697-S,  was   presented  to 
the  Lords,  in  order  to  procure  an  act  of  divorce,  it  appears,   that  "  Anne,  Coun- 
tess of  Macclesfield,  under  the  name  of  Madam  Smith,  in  Fox  Court,  near  Bm 
Street,  Holborn,  was  delivered  of  a  male  child  by  Mrs.  Wright,  a  midwife,  on  Sat- 
urday the  16th  of  January,  1696-7,  at  six  o'clock  in  the  morning,  who  was  baptiz- 
ed on  the  Monday  following,  and  registered  by  the  name  of  Richard,  the  son 
John  Smith,  by  Mr.  Burbridge,  assistant  to  Dr.  Manningham's  Curate  for  St.  An- 
drews, Holborn  :  that  the  child  was  christened  on  Monday  the  18th  of  January 
in  Fox  Court  ;  and,  from  the  privacy,  was  supposed  by  Mr.  Burbridge  to  be  "  a 
by-blow  or  bastard."     It  also  appears  that  during  her  delivery  the   lady  won 
mask;  and  that  Mary  Pegler  on  the  next  day  after  the  baptism  (Tuesday)  took  a 
male-child,  whose  mother  was  called  Madam  Smith,  from  the  house  of  Mr<.  Pheas- 
ant, in  Fox  Court,  [running  from  Brook-street  into  Gray's-Jnn  Lane,]  who  w 
by  the  name  of  Mrs.  Lee. 

Conformable  to  this  statement  is  the  entry  in  the  Register  of  St.  Andrew's,  Hol- 
born, which  is  as  follows,  and  which  unquestionably  record-  the  baptism  of  Rich- 
ard Savage,  to  whom  Lord  Rivers  gave  his  own  Christian  n.  fixed  to  the 
assumed  surname  of  his  mother  :"  Jan.  1696-7.  Richard,  son  of  John  Smith  and 
Mary,  in  Fox  Court,  in  Grav's-Inn  Lane,  baptised  the  18th."  J.  B.] 

140  THE    LIFE    OF 

1744.  most  obvious  and  expeditious  method  of  obtaining  her 
je{^  liberty  ;"  and  Johnson,  assuming  this  to  be  true,  stig- 
35.  matises  her  with  indignation,  as  "the  wretch  who  had, 
without  scruple,  proclaimed  herself  an  adultress."8 
But  1  have  perused  the  Journals  of  both  houses  of 
Parliament  at  the  period  of  her  divorce,  and  there  find 
it  authentically  ascertained,  that  so  far  from  voluntarily 
submitting  to  the  ignominious  charge  of  adultery,  she 
made  a  strenuous  defence  by  her  Counsel  ;  the  bill 
having  been  first  moved  15th  of  January,  1697-8,  in 
the  house  of  Lords,  and  proceeded  on,  (with  various 
applications  for  time  to  bring  up  witnesses  at  a  distance, 
&c.)  at  intervals,  till  the  3d  of  March,  when  it  passed. 
It  was  brought  to  the  Commons,  by  a  message  from 
the  Lords,  the  5th  of  March,  proceeded  on  the  7th, 
10th,  11th,  14th,  and  loth,  on  which  day,  after  a  full 
examination  of  witnesses  on  both  sides,  and  hearing  of 
Counsel,  it  was  reported  without  amendments,  passed, 
and  carried  to  the  Lords.  That  Lady  Macclesfield  was 
convicted  of  the  crime  of  which  she  was  accused,  can- 
not be  denied  ;  but  the  question  now  is,  whether  the 
person  calling  himself  Richard  Savage  was  her  son. 

It  has  been  said,  that  when  Earl  Rivers  was  dying, 
and  anxious  to  provide  for  all  his  natural  children,  he 
was  informed  by  Lady  Macclesfield  that  her  son  by  him 
was  dead.  Whether,  then,  shall  we  believe  that  this 
was  a  malignant  lie,  invented  by  a  mother  to  prevent 
her  own  child  from  receiving  the  bounty  of  his  father, 
which  was  accordingl}'  the  consequence,  if  the  person 
whose  life  Johnson  wrote,  was  her  son  ;  or  shall  we  not 
rather  believe  that  the  person  who  then  assumed  the 
name  of  Richard  Savage  was  an  impostor,  being  in  re- 
ality the  son  of  the  shoe-maker,  under  whose  wife's 
care  Lady  Macclesfield's  child  was  placed  ;  that  after 
the  death  of  the  real  Richard  Savage,  he  attempted  to 
personate  him  ;  and  that  the  fraud  being  known  to  La- 
dy Macclesfield,  he  was  therefore  repulsed  by  her  with 
just  resentment. 

8  [No  divorce  can  be  obtained  in  the  Courts,  on  confession  of  the  party.    There 
must  be  proofs,     K.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  1  \  I 

There  is  a  strong  circumstance  in  support  of  the  last  '744. 
supposition,  though  it  has  been  mentioned  as  an  aggra-  'y^ 
vation  of  Lady    Macclesfield's  unnatural  conduct,  and   35, 
that  is,  her  having  prevented  him  from   obtaining  the 
benefit  of  a  legacy  left  to  him  by  Mrs.  Lloyd,  his  god- 
mother.      For  if  there  was  such  a  legacy  left,  his  not  be- 
ing  able  to  obtain  payment  of  it,  must  be  imputed  to  his 
consciousness  that  he  was  not  the  real  person.     The 
just  inference   should  be,   that  by  the  death  of  Lady 
Macclesfield's  child  before  its  god-mother,  the  legacy 
became  lapsed,  and   therefore  that  Johnson's  Richard 
Savage  was  an  impostor. 

If  he  had  a  title  to  the  legacy,  he  could  not  have 
found  any  difticnltv  in  recovering  it ;  for  had  the  exec- 
utors  resisted  his  claim,  the  whole  costs,  as  well  as  the 
legacy,  must  have  been  paid  by  them,  if  he  had  been 
the  child  to  whom  it  was  given. 

The  talents  of  Savage,  and  the  mingled  fire,  rudeness, 
pride,  meanness,  and  ferocity  of  his  character,8  concur 
in  making  it  credible  that  he  was  fit  to  plan  and  carry 
on  an  ambitious  and  daring  scheme  of  imposture,  simi- 
lar instances  of  which  have  not  been  wanting  in  higher 
spheres,  in  the  history  of  different  countries,  and  have 
had  a  considerable  degree  of  success. 

Yet,  on  the  other  hand,  to  the  companion  of  John- 
son, (who,  through  whatever  medium  he  was  con- 
veyed into  this  world, — be  it  ever  so  doubtful  ':  To 
whom  related,  or  by  whom  begot,"  was,  unquestionably, 
a  man  of  no  common  endowments,)  we  must  allow  the 
weight  of  general  repute  as  to  his  Status  or  parentage, 
though  illicit ;  and  supposing  him  to  be  an  impostor,  it. 
seems  strange  that  Lord  Tyrconnel,  the  nephew  of  La- 
dy Macclesfield,  should  patronise  him,  and  even  admit 

s  Johnson's  companion  appears  to  have  persuaded  that  lofty-mi nded  man,  that  he 
resembled  him  in  having  a  noble  pride  ;  for  Johnson,  after  painting  in  strong  col- 
ours the  quarrel  between  Lord  Tyrconnel  and  Savage,  asserts  that  "  the  spirit  of 
Air.  Savage,  indeed,  never  suffered  him  to  solicit  a  reconciliation  :  he  returned  re- 
proach for  reproach,  and  insult  for  insult."  But  the  respectable  gentleman  to 
whom  I  have  alluded,  has  in  his  possession  a  letter  from  Savage,  after  Lord  1  yr- 
connel  had  discarded  him,  addressed  to  the  Reverend  Mr.  Gilbert,  his  Lordship's 
Chaplain,  in  wluch  he  requests  him,  in  the  humblest  manner,  to  represent 
case  to  the  Viscount. 

142  THE    LIFE    OP 

1744.  him  as  a  guest  in  his  family.9  Lastly,  it  must  ever  ap- 
yEtaT  Pear  yery  suspicious,  that  three  different  accounts  of  the 
35.  '  Life  of  Richard  Savage,  one  published  in  "  The  Plain 
Dealer,"  in  1724,  another  in  1727,  and  another  by  the 
powerful  pen  of  Johnson,  in  1744,  and  all  of  them  while 
Lady  Macclesfield  was  alive,  should,  notwithstanding 
the  severe  attacks  upon  her,  have  been  suffered  to  pass 
without  any  publick  and  effectual  contradiction. 

I  have  thus  endeavoured  to  sum  up  the  evidence  up- 
on the  case,  as  fairly  as  I  can  ;  and  the  result  seems  to 
be,  that  the  world  must  vibrate  in  a  state  of  uncertainty 
as  to  what  was  the  truth. 

This  digression,  1  trust,  will  not  be  censured,  as  it 
relates  to  a  matter  exceedingly  curious,  and  very  inti- 
mately connected  with  Johnson,  both  as  a  man  and  an 
authour. ' 

tie  this  year  wrote  the  "  Preface  to  the  Harleian 
Miscellany."*  The  selection  of  the  pamphlets  of  which 
it  was  composed  was  made  by  Mr.  Oldys,  a  man  of  ea- 
ger curiosity,  and  indefatigable  diligence,  who  first  ex- 

9  Trusting  to  Savage's  information,  Johnson  represents  this  unhappy  man's  be- 
ing received  as  a  companion  by  Lord  Tyrconnel,and  pensioned  by  liis  Lordship, 
as  posteriour  to  Savage's  conviction  and  pardon.  But  I  am  assured,  that  Savage 
had  received  the  voluntary  bounty  of  Lord  Tyrconnel,  and  had  been  dismissed  by 
him  long  before  the  murder  was  committed,  and  that  his  Lordship  was  very  instru- 
mental in  procuring  Savage's  pardon,  by  his  intercession  with  the  Queen,  through 
Lady  Hertford.  If,  therefore,  he  had  been  desirous  of  preventing  the  publication 
by  Savage,  he  would  have  left  him  to  his  fate.  Indeed  I  must  observe,  that  although 
Johnson  mentions  that  Lord  Tyrconnel's  patronage  of  Savage  was  "  upon  his  prom- 
ise to  lay  aside  his  design  of  exposing  the  cruelty  of  his  mother,"  the  great  biogra- 
pher has  forgotten  that  he  himself  has  mentioned,  that  Savage's  story  had  been 
told  several  years  before  in  "  The  Plain  Dealer  ?"  from  which  he  quotes  this  strong- 
saying  of  the  generous  Sir  Richard  Steele,  that  the  "  inhumanity  of  his  mother  had 
given  him  a  right  to  find  every  good  man  his  father."  At  the  same  time  it  must 
be  acknowledged,  that  Lady  Macclesfield  and  her  relations  might  still  wish  that 
her  story  should  not  be  brought  into  more  conspicuous  notice  by  the  satirical  pen 
of  Savage. 

1  Miss  Mason,  after  having  forfeited  the  title  of  Lady  Macclesfield  by  divorce, 
was  married  to  Colonel  Brett,  and,  it  is  said,  was  well  known  in  all  the  polite  cir- 
cles. Colley  Cibber,  I  am  informed,  had  so  high  an  opinion  of  her  taste  and  judge- 
ment as  to  genteel  life  and  manners,  that  he  submitted  every  scene  of  his  "  Care- 
less Husband"  to  Mrs.  Brett's  revisal  and  correction.  Colonel  Brett  was  reported 
to  be  too  free  in  his  gallantry  with  his  Lady's  Maid.  Mrs.  Brett  came  into  a 
room  one  day  in  her  own  house,  and  found  the  Colonel  and  her  maid  both  fast 
asleep  in  two  chairs.  She  tied  a  white  handkerchief  round  her  husband's  neck, 
which  was  a  sufficient  proof  that  she  had  discovered  his  intrigue  ;  but  she  never 
at  any  time  took  notice  of  it  to  him.  This  incident,  as  I  am  told,  gave  occasion  tr- 
the  well-wrought  scene  of  Sir  Charles  and  Lady  Easy,  and  Edging. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  1  t3 

erted  that  spirit  of  inquiry  into  the  literature  of  the  old  l' 

English  writers,  bv  which  the  works  of  our  great  dra-  T\T 

°.  •  ■  .1.1  lit . 

matic  poet  have  of  late  been  so  signally  illustrate  d.  36. 

In  174J  he  published  a  pamphlet  entitled,  "  Miscel- 
laneous Observations  on  the  Tragedy  of  Macbeth,  with 
Remarks  on  Sir  T.  11. 's  (Sir Thomas  Hanmer's)  Edition 
of  Shakspeare/'*  To  which  he  affixed,  proposals  for  a 
new  edition  of  that  poet. 

As  we  do  not  trace  any  thing  else  published  by  him 
during  the  course  of  this  year,  we  may  conjecture  that 
he  was  occupied  entirely  with  that  work.  But  the  lit- 
tle encouragement  which  was  given  by  the  publick  to 
his  anonymous  proposals  for  the  execution  of  a  task 
which  Warburton  was  known  to  have  undertaken,  prob- 
ably damped  his  ardour.  His  pamphlet,  however,  was 
highly  esteemed,  and  was  fortunate  enough  to  obtain 
the  approbation  even  of  the  supercilious  Warburton 
himself,  who,  in  the  Preface  to  his  Shakspeare  publish- 
ed two  vears  afterwards,  thus  mentioned  it :  "  As  to  all 
those  things  which  have  been  published  under  the  titles 
of  Essays,  Remarks,  Observations,  &c.  on  Shakspeare,  if 
you  except  some  Critical  Notes  on  Macbeth,  given  as 
a  specimen  of  a  projected  edition,  and  written,  as  ap- 
pears, by  a  man  of  parts  and  genius,  the  rest  are  abso- 
lutely below  a  serious  notice." 

Of  this  flattering  distinction  shewn  to  him  by  War- 
burton,  a  very  grateful  remembrance  was  ever  enter- 
tained by  Johnson,  who  said,  "  He  praised  me  at  a  time 
when  praise  was  of  value  to  me." 

In  1746  it  is  probable  that  he  was  still  employed  up- 
on his  Shakspeare,  which  perhaps  he  laid  aside  for  a  time, 
upon  account  of  the  high  expectations  which  were 
formed  of  Warburton's  edition  of  that  great  poet.  It  is 
somewhat  curious,  that  his  literary  career  appears  to 
have  been  almost  totally  suspended  in  the  years  17  i  > 
and  1746,  those  vears  which  were  marked  by  a  civil 
war  in  Great-Britain,  when  a  rash  attempt  was  made  to 
restore  the  House  of  Stuart  to  the  throne.  That  he  had 
a  tenderness  for  that  unfortunate  House,  is  well  known  ; 
and  some  may  fancifully  imagine,  that  a  sympathetick 
anxiety  impeded  the  exertion  of  his  intellectual  now- 

144  THE    LIFE    OF 

1746.  ers  :  but  I  am   inclined  to  think,   that  he  was,  during 
^^  this  time,  sketching  the  outlines  of  his  great  philolog- 
37.    ical  work. 

None  of  his  letters  during  those  years  are  extant,  so 
far  as  1  can  discover.  This  is  much  to  be  regretted.  It 
might  afford  some  entertainment  to  see  how  he  then  ex- 
pressed himself  to  his  private  friends  concerning  State 
affairs.  Dr.  Adams  informs  me,  that  "  at  this  time  a 
favourite  object  which  he  had  in  contemplation  was 
4  The  Life  of  Alfred  ;'  in  which,  from  the  warmth  with 
which  he  spoke  about  it,  he  would,  I  believe,  had  he 
been  master  of  his  own  will,  have  engaged  himself 
rather  than  on  any  other  subject." 

In  1747  it  is  supposed  that  the  Gentleman's  Maga- 
zine for  May  was  enriched  by  him  with  five  short  po- 
etical pieces,  distinguished  by  three  asterisks.  The 
first  is  a  translation,  or  rather  a  paraphrase,  of  a  Latin 
Epitaph  on  Sir  Thomas  Hammer.  Whether  the  Latin 
was  his,  or  not,  I  have  never  heard,  though  1  should 
think  it  probably  was,  if  it  be  certain  that  he  wrote  the 
English  ;  as  to  which  my  only  cause  of  doubt  is,  that 
his  slighting  character  of  Hanmer  as  an  editor,  in  his 
"  Observations  on  Macbeth,"  is  very  different  from  that 
in  the  Epitaph.  It  may  be  said,  that  there  is  the  same 
contrariety  between  the  character  in  the  Observations, 
and  that  in  his  own  Preface  to  Shakspeare  ;  but  a  con- 
siderable time  elapsed  between  the  one  publication 
and  the  other,  whereas  the  Observations  and  the  Epi- 
taph came  close  together.  The  others  are,  "  To  Miss 
,  on  her  giving  the  Authour  a  gold  and  silk  net- 
work Purse  of  her  own  weaving  ;"  "  Stella  in  Mourn- 
ing ;"  "  The  Winter's  Walk  ;"  "  An  Ode  ;"  and,  "  To 
Lyce,  an  elderly  Lady."  1  am  not  positive  that  all  these 
were  his  productions;2  but  as  "The  Winter's  Walk," 
has  never  been  controverted  to  be  his,  and  all  of  them 

2  [In  the  Universal  Visiter,  to  which  Johnson  contributed,  the  mark  which  is 
affixed  to  some  pieces  unquestionably  his,  is  also  found  subjoined  to  others,  of 
which  he  certainly  was  not  the  authour.  The  mark  therefore  will  not  ascertain 
the  poems  in  question  to  have  been  written  by  him.  Some  of  them  were  proba- 
bly the  productions  of  Hawkesworth,  who,  it  is  believed,  was  afflicted  with  the 
gout.  The  verses  on  a  Purse  were  inserted  afterwards  in  Mrs.  Williams's  Miscel- 
lanies, and  are,  unquestionably,  Johnson's.     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  I  K, 

have  the  same  mark,  it  is  reasonable  to  conclude  that  1747. 
they  are  all  written  by  the  same  hand.  Yet  to  the  jjJT^ 
Ode,  in   which  we  find  a  passage   very  characteristick   33. 

of  him,  being  a  learned  description  of  the  gout, 

"  Unhappy,  whom  to  beds  of  pain 
"  Arthritick  tyranny  consigns  ;" 
there  is  the  following  note,  "  The  authour  being  ill  of 
the  gout:"  but  Johnson  was  not  attacked  with  that 
distemper  till  a  very  late  period  of  his  life.  May  not 
this,  however,  be  a  poetical  fiction  \  Why  may  not  a 
poet  suppose  himself  to  have  the  gout,  as  well  as  sup- 
pose himself  to  be  in  love,  of  which  we  have  innumera- 
ble instances,  and  which  has  been  admirably  ridiculed 
by  Johnson  in  his  "  Life  of  Cowley  I"  1  have  also 
some  difficulty  to  believe  that  he  could  produce  such  a 
group  of  conceits  as  appear  in  the  verses  to  Lyce,  in 
which  he  claims  for  this  ancient  personage  as  good  a 
right  to  be  assimilated  to  heaven,  as  nymphs  whom 
other  poets  have  flattered  ;  he  therefore  ironically 
ascribes  to  her  the  attributes  of  the  sky,  in  such  stan- 
zas as  this  : 

4i  Her  teeth  the  night  with  darkness  dies, 
"  She's  starred  with  pimples  o'er; 

"  Her  tongue  like  nimble  lightning  plies, 
"  And  can  with  thunder  roar." 
But  as  at  a  verv  advanced  age  he  could  condescend  to 
trifle  in  namby-pamby  rhymes,  to  please  Mrs.  Thrale  and 
her  daughter,  he  may  have,   in  his  earlier  years,  com- 
posed such  a  piece  as  this. 

It  is  remarkable,  that  in  the  first  edition  of  "  The 
Winter's  Walk,"  the  concluding  line  is  much  more 
Johnsonian  than  it  was  afterwards  printed ;  for  in  sub- 
sequent editions  after,  praying  Stella  to  "  snatch  him  to 
her  arms,"  he  says, 

"  And  shield  me  from  the  ills  of  life." 
Whereas  in  the  first  edition  it  is 

"  And  hide  me  from  the  sight  of  life." 
A  horrour  at  life  in  general  is   more  consonant   with 
Johnson's  habitual  gloomy  cast  of  thought. 

1  have  heard  him  repeat  with  great  energy  the  fol- 
lowing verses,  which  appeared  in  the  Gentleman's  Mag- 

VOL.  I.  10 



146  THE    LIFE    OF 

1747.  aziue  for  April  this  year ;  but  I  have  no  authority  to 

^'^say  they  were  his  own.     Indeed  one  of  the  best  crit- 

38.    icks  of  our  age  suggests  to  me,  that  "  the  word  indif- 

ferentlif  being  used   in   the   sense  of  without  concern, 

and  being  also  very  unpoetical,  renders  it  improbable 

that  they  should  have  been  his  composition." 

"  On  Lord  Lovat's  Execution. 

4i  Pity'd  by  gentle  minds  Kilmarnock  died  ; 
"  The  brave,  Balmerino,  were  on  thy  side  ; 
"  Radcliffe,  unhappy  in  his  crimes  of  youth, 
"  Steady  in  what  he  still  mistook  for  truth, 
"  Beheld  his  death  so  decently  unmov'd, 

The  soft  lamented,  and  the  brave  approved. 
•  But  Lovat's  fate  indifferently  we  view, 

True  to  no  King,  to  no  religion  true  : 
"  "No  fair  forgets  the  ruin  he  has  done  ; 
"  No  child  laments  the  tyrant  of  his  son  ; 
"  No  tori/  pities,  thinking  what  he  was  ; 
"  No  whig  compassions,  for  he  left  the  cause ; 
"  The  brave  regret  not,  for  he  was  not  brave  ? 
"  The  honest  mourn  not,  knowing  him  a  knave  !"3 

This  year  his  old  pupil  and  friend,  David  Garrick, 
having  become  joint  patentee  and  manager  of  Drury- 
lane  theatre,  Johnson  honoured  his  opening  of  it  with 
a  Prologue,*  which  for  just  and  manly  dramatick  crit- 
icism on  the  whole  range  of  the  English  stage,  as  well 
as  for  poetical  excellence,*   is  unrivalled.     Like  the 

3  These  verses  are  somewhat  too  severe  on  the  extraordinary  person  who  is  the 
chief  figure  in  them  ;  for  he  was  undoubtedly  brave.  His  pleasantry  during  his 
solemn  trial  (in  which,  by  the  way,  I  have  heard  Mr.  David  Hume  observe,  that 
we  have  one  of  the  very  few  speeches  of  Mr.  Murray,  now  Earl  of  Mansfield,  au- 
thentically given)  was  very  remarkable.  When  asked  if  he  had  any  questions  to 
put  to  Sir  Everard  Fawkener,  who  was  one  of  the  strongest  witnesses  against  him, 
he  answered  "  I  only  wish  him  joy  of  his  young  wife."  And  after  sentence  of  death, 
in  the  horrible  terms  in  such  cases  of  treason,  was  pronounced  upon  him,  and  he 
wqJLretiring  from  the  bar,  he  said,  "  Fare  you  well,  my  Lords,  we  shall  not  all  meet 
again  in  one  place."  He  behaved  with  perfect  composure  at  his  execution,  and 
called  OUt  "  Duke  et  decorum  est  pro  patria  mori." 

4  My  friend  Mr.  Courtenay,  whose  eulogy  on  Johnson's  Latin  Poetry  has  beep 
inserted  in  this  Work,  is  no  less  happy  in  praising  his  English  Poetry. 

But  hark,  he  sings  !  the  strain  even  Pope  admires  ; 
Indignant  virtue  her  own  bard  inspires. 

DR.    JOHNSON'.  1  M 

celebrated   Epilogue  to  the    "  Distressed  Mother,''   it  1747. 
was,  during-  the  season,  often  called  for  by  the  audience.  jTt^ 
The  most  striking  and  brilliant  passages  of  it  have  been    38. 
so  often  repeated,  and  are  so  well  recollected  by  all  the 
lovers  of  the  drama,  and  of  poetry,  that  it  would  be  su- 
perfluous to  point  them  out.     In  the  Gentleman's  Mag- 
azine for  December  this  year,  he  inserted  an  "  Ode  on 
Winter,"  which  is,  1  think,  an  admirable  specimen  of 
his  genius  for  lyrick  poetry. 

But  the  year  1747  is  distinguished  as  the  epoch, 
when  Johnson's  arduous  and  important  work,  his  Dic- 
tionary of  the  English  Language,  was  announc- 
ed to  the  world,  by  the  publication  of  its  Plan  or  Pros- 

How  long  this  immense  undertaking  had  been  the 
object  of  his  contemplation,  I  do  not  know.  1  once 
asked  him  by  what  means  he  had  attained  to  that  aston- 
ishing knowledge  of  our  language,  by  which  he  was 
enabled  to  realise  a  design  of  such  extent  and  accumu- 
lated difficulty.  He  told  me,  that  "  it  was  not  the  ef- 
fect of  particular  study  ;  but  that  it  had  grown  up  in 
his  mind  insensibly."  I  have  been  informed  by  Mr. 
James  Dodsley,  that  several  years  before  this  period, 
when  Johnson  was  one  day  sitting  in  his  brother  Rob- 
ert's shop,  he  heard  his  brother  suggest  to  him,  that  a 
Dictionary  of  the  English  Language  would  be  a  work 
that  would  be  well  received  by  the  publick  ;  that 
Johnson  seemed  at  first  to  catch  at  the  proposition,  but, 
after  a  pause,  said,  in  his  abrupt  decisive  manner,  "  I 
believe  I  shall  not  undertake  it."  That  he,  however, 
had  bestowed  much  thought  upon  the  subject,  before 
he  published  his  "  Plan,"  is  evident  from  the  enlarged, 
clear,  and  accurate  views  which  it  exhibits  ;  and  we 
find  him  mentioning  in  that  tract,  that  many  of  the 
writers  whose  testimonies  were  to  be  produced  as  au- 
thorities, were  selected  by  Pope  ;  which  proves  that  he 
had  been  furnished,  probably  by  Mr.  Robert  DodHey. 

Sublime  as  Juvenal  he  pours  his  lays, 

And  with  the  Roman  shares  congenial  praise  ; — 

In  glowing  numbers  now  he  fires  the  age, 

And  Shakspeare's  sun  relumes  the  clouded  stage. 

148  THE    LIFE    OF 

1747.  with  whatever  hints  that  eminent  poet  had  contributed 
vEt-aT  towar<-ls  a  great  literary  project,  that  had  been  the  sub- 
38.  "ject  of  important  consideration  in  a  former  reign. 

The  booksellers  who  contracted  with  Johnson,  single 
and  unaided,  for  the  execution  of  a  work,  which  in 
other  countries  has  not  been  effected  but  by  the  co- 
operating exertions  of  many,  were  Mr.  Robert  Dods- 
ley,  Mr.  Charles  Hitch,  Mr.  Andrew  Millar,  the  tw© 
Messieurs  Longman,  and  the  two  Messieurs  Knapton. 
The  price  stipulated  was  fifteen  hundred  and  seventy- 
five  pounds. 

The  "  Plan"  was  addressed  to  Philip  Dormer,  Earl 
of  Chesterfield,  then  one  of  his  Majesty's  Principal  Sec- 
retaries of  State  ;  a  nobleman  who  was  very  ambitious 
of  literary  distinction,  and  who,  upon  being  informed 
of  the  design,  had  expressed  himself  in  terms  very  fa- 
vourable to  its  success.  There  is,  perhaps  in  every 
thing  of  any  consequence,  a  secret  history  which  it 
would  be  amusing  to  know,  could  we  have  it  authen- 
tically communicated.  Johnson  told  me,5  "Sir,  the 
way  in  which  the  plan  of  my  Dictionary  came  to  be  in- 
scribed to  Lord  Chesterfield,  was  this  :  1  had  neglected 
to  write  it  by  the  time  appointed.  Dodsley  suggested 
a  desire  to  have  it  addressed  to  Lord  Chesterfield.  I 
laid  hold  of  this  as  a  pretext  for  delay,  that  it  might  be 
better  done,  and  let  Dodsley  have  his  desire.  1  said 
to  my  friend,  Dr.  Bathurst,  '  Now  if  any  good  comes 
of  my  addressing  to  Lord  Chesterfield,  it  will  be  ascrib- 
ed to  deep  policy,  when,  in  fact,  it  was  only  a  casual 
excuse  for  laziness," 

It  is  worthy  of  observation,  that  the  i;  Plan"  has  not 
only  the  substantial  merit  of  comprehension,  perspicu- 
ity, and  precision,  but  that  the  language  of  it  is  unex- 
ceptionably  excellent  ;  it  being  altogether  free  from 
that  inflation  of  style,  and  those  uncommon  but  apt  and 
energetick  words,  which  in  some  of  his  writings  have 
been  censured,  with  more  petulance  than  justice  ;  and 
never  was  there  a  more  dignified  strain  of  compliment 
than  that  in  which  he  courts  the  attention  of  one  who. 

*  September  22,  1777,  going  from  Ashbourne  in  Derbyshire,  to  see  Islam. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  1  V9 

he  had  been  persuaded  to  believe  would  be  a  respecta-  1747. 
ble  patron.  ~22 

"  VV  ith  regard  to  questions  ot  purity  or  propriety,  38, 
(says  he)  1  was  once  in  doubt  whether  I  should  not  at- 
tribute to  myself  too  much  in  attempting  to  decide  them, 
and  whether  my  province  was  to  extend  beyond  the 
proposition  of  the  question,  and  the  display  of  the  suf- 
frages on  each  side  ;  but  1  have  been  since  determined 
by  your  Lordship's  opinion,  to  interpose  my  own  judge- 
ment, and  shall  therefore  endeavour  to  support  what 
appears  to  me  most  consonant  to  grammar  and  reason. 
Ausonius  thought  that  modesty  forbade  him  to  plead 
inability  for  a  task  to  which  Caesar  had  judged  him 
equal  : 

Cur  me  posse  negem  posse  quod  die  putut  ! 

And  I  may  hope,  my  Lord,  that  since  you,  whose  au- 
thority in  our  language  is  so  generally  acknowledged, 
have  commissioned  me  to  declare  my  own  opinion,  1 
shall  be  considered  as  exercising  a  kind  of  vicarious  ju- 
risdiction ;  and  that  the  power  which  might  have  been 
denied  to  my  own  claim,  will  be  readily  allowed  me  as 
the  delegate  of  your  Lordship." 

This  passage  proves,  that  Johnson's  addressing  his 
•'  Plan"  to  Lord  Chesterfield  was  not  merely  in  conse- 
quence of  the  result  of  a  report  by  means  of  Dodsley, 
that  the  Earl  favoured  the  design  ;  but  that  there  had 
been  a  particular  communication  with  his  Lordship 
concerning:  it.  Dr.  Tavlor  told  me,  that  Johnson  sent 
his  "  Plan"  to  him  in  manuscript,  for  his  perusal ;  and 
that  when  it  was  lying  upon  his  table,  Mr.  William 
Whitehead  happened  to  pay  him  a  visit,  and  behii; 
shewn  it,  was  highly  pleased  with  such  parts  of  it  as  he 
had  time  to  read,  and  begged  to  take  it  home  with  him, 
which  he  was  allowed  to  do  ;  that  from  him  it  got  into 
the  hands  of  a  noble  Lord,  who  carried  it  to  Lord  Ches- 
terfield. When  Tavlor  observed  this  might  be  an  ad- 
vantage,  Johnson  replied,  "  No,  Sir,  it  would  have  come 
out  with  more  bloom,  if  it  had  not  been  seen  before  by 
any  body." 

150  THE    LIFE    OF 

1748.       The  opinion  conceived  of  it  by  another  noble  authour, 
]eJ^  appears  from  the  following  extract  of  a  letter  from  the 
39.    Earl  of  Orrery  to  Dr.  Birch  : 

"  Caledon,  Dec.  30,  1747." 
"  I  have  just  now  seen  the  specimen  of  Mr.  John- 
son's Dictionary,  addressed  to  Lord  Chesterfield.  I 
am  much  pleased  with  the  plan,  and  I  think  the  speci- 
men is  one  of  the  best  that  I  have  ever  read.  Most 
specimens  disgust,  rather  than  prejudice  us  in  favour 
of  the  work  to  follow  ;  but  the  language  of  Mr.  John- 
son's is  good,  and  the  arguments  are  properly  and  mod- 
estly expressed.  However,  some  expressions  may  be 
cavilled  at,  but  thev  are  trifles.  I'll  mention  one  :  the 
barren  Laurel.  The  laurel  is  not  barren,  in  any  sense 
whatever  ;  it  bears  fruits  and  flowers.  Sed  hce  sunt  me- 
ga*, and  I  have  great  expectations  from  the  perform- 

That  he  was  fully  aware  of  the  arduous  nature  of  the 
undertaking,  he  acknowledges;  and  shews  himself  per- 
fectly sensible  of  it  in  the  conclusion  of  his  "  Plan  ;" 
but  he  had  a  noble  consciousness  of  his  own  abilities, 
which  enabled  him  to  go  on  with  undaunted  spirit. 

Dr.  Adams  found  him  one  day  busy  at  his  Diction- 
ary, when  the  following  dialogue  ensued.  "  Adams. 
This  is  a  great  work,  Sir.  How  are  you  to  get  all  the 
etymologies  I  Johnson.  Why,  Sir,  here  is  a  shelf  with 
Junius,  and  Skinner,  and  others  ;  and  there  is  a  Welch 
gentleman  who  has  published  a  collection  of  Welch 
proverbs,  who  will  help  me  with  the  Welch.  Adams. 
But,  Sir,  how  can  you  do  this  in  three  years  ?  Johnson. 
Sir,  I  have  no  doubt  that  1  can  do  it  in  three  years. 
Adams.  But  the  French  Acadenry,  which  consists  of 
forty  members,  took  forty  years  to  compile  their  Diction- 
ary. Johnson.  Sir,  thus  it  is.  This  is  the  proportion. 
Let  me  see  ;  forty  times  forty  is  sixteen  hundred.  As 
three  to  sixteen  hundred,  so  is  the  proportion  of  an  En- 
glishman to  a  Frenchman."  With  so  much  ease  and 
pleasantry  could  he  talk  of  that  prodigious  labour  which 
he  had  undertaken  to  execute. 

"  Birch  MSS.  Brit.  Mus.  4303. 

DR.   JOHNSON.  1)1 

The  publick  has  had,  from  another  pen,7  a  long  de-  1748. 
Kail  of  what  had  been  done  in  this  country  by  prior  g^t 
Lexicographers  ;  and  no  doubt  Johnson  was  wise  to  30. 
avail  himself  of  them,  as  far  so  they  went  :  but  the 
(earned,  yet  judicious  research  of  etymology,  the  vari- 
ous, yet  accurate  display  of  definition,  and  the  rich  col- 
lection of  authorities,  were  reserved  for  the  superiour 
mind  of  our  great  philologist.  For  the  mechanical  part 
he  employed,  as  he  told  me,  six  amanuenses  ;  and  let 
it  be  remembered  by  the  natives  of  North-Britain,  to 
whom  he  is  supposed  to  have  been  so  hostile,  that  live 
of  them  were  of  that  country.  There  were  two  Mes- 
sieurs Alacbean  ;  Mr.  Shiels,  who  we  shall  hereafter 
see  partly  wrote  the  Lives  of  the  Poets  to  which  the 
name  of  Gibber  is  affixed  ;s  Mr.  Stewart,  son  of  Mr. 
George  Stewart,  bookseller  at  Edinburgh  ;  and  a  Mr. 
Maitiand.  The  sixth  of  these  humble  assistants  was 
Mr.  Peyton,  who,  1  believe,  taught  Trench,  and  pub- 
lished some  elementary  tracts. 

To  all  these  painful  labourers,  Johnson  shewed  a 
never-ceasing  kindness,  so  far  as  they  stood  in  need  of 
it.  The  elder  Mr.  Macbean  had  afterwards  the  honour 
©f  being  Librarian  to  Archibald,  Duke  of  Argyle,  for 
many  years,  but  was  left  without  a  shilling.  Johnson 
wrote  for  him  a  Preface  to  "  A  System  of  Ancient  Ge- 
ography f  and,  by  the  favour  of  Lord  Thurlow,  got 
him  admitted  a  poor  brother  of  the  Charterhouse.  For 
Shiels,  who  died  of  a  consumption,  he  had  much  ten- 
derness ;  and  it  has  been  thought  that  some  choice 
sentences  in  the  Lives  of  the  Poets  were  supplied  by 
him.  Peyton,  when  reduced  to  penury,  had  frequent 
aid  from  the  bounty  of  Johnson,  who  at  last  was  at  the 
expence  of  burying  him  and  his  wife. 

While  the  Dictionary  was  aroinff  forward,  Johnson 
lived  part  of  the  time  in  Holborn,  part  in  Gough- 
square,  Fleet-street;  and  he  had  an  upper  room  fitted 
up  like  a  counting-house  {'or  the  purpose,  in  which  he 
gave  to  the  copyists  their  several  tasks.  The  words. 
partly  taken  from  other  dictionaries,  and  partly  suppli- 

7  See  Sir  John  Hawkins's  Life  of  Johrr^p- 
■  See  Vo!.  iit,  imde-  April  10,  T  "*>' 

1.52  THE    LIFE    OF 

1748.  ed  by  himself,  having  been  first  written  down  with 
EtaT  sPaces  ^\  between  them,  he  delivered  in  writing  their 
39.  '  etymologies,  definitions,  and  various  significations. 
The  authorities  were  copied  from  the  books  themselves, 
in  which  he  had  marked  the  passages  with  a  black-lead 
pencil,  the  traces  of  which  could  easily  be  effaced.  J 
have  seen  several  of  them,  in  which  that  trouble  had 
not  been  taken  ;  so  that  they  were  just  as  when  used 
by  the  copyists.  It  is  remarkable,  that  he  was  so  at- 
tentive in  the  choice  of  the  passages  in  which  words 
were  authorised,  that  one  may  read  page  after  page  of 
his  Dictionary  with  improvement  and  pleasure  ;  and  it 
should  not  pass  unobserved,  that  he  has  quoted  no  au~ 
thour  whose  writings  had  a  tendency  to  hurt  sound  re- 
ligion and  morality. 

The  necessary  expence  of  preparing  a  work  of  such 
magnitude  for  the  press,  must  have  been  a  considerable 
deduction  from  the  price  stipulated  to  be  paid  for  the 
copy-right.  I  understand  that  nothing  was  allowed  by 
the  booksellers  on  that  account ;  and  I  remember  his 
telling  me,  that  a  large  portion  of  it  having,  by  mistake, 
been  written  upon  both  sides  of  the  paper,  so  as  to  be 
inconvenient  for  the  compositor,  it  cost  him  twenty 
pounds  to  have  it  transcribed  upon  one  side  only. 

He  is  now  to  be  considered  as  i;  tugging  at  his  oar,'' 
as  engaged  in  a  steady  continued  course  of  occupation, 
sufficient  to  employ  all  his  time  for  some  years  ;  and 
which  was  the  best  preventive  of  that  constitutional 
melancholy  which  was  ever  lurking  about  him,  ready  to 
trouble  his  quiet.  But  his  enlarged  and  lively  mind 
could  not  be  satisfied  without  more  diversity  of  em- 
ployment, and  the  pleasure  of  animated  relaxation.9 
He  therefore  not  only  exerted  his  lalents  in  occasional 
composition,  very  different  from  Lexicography,  but 
formed  a   club  in  Ivy-lane,    Paternoster-row,  with    a 

9  [For  the  sake  of  relaxation  from  his  literary  labours,  and  probably  also  fot 
Mrs.  Johnson's  health,  he  this  Summer  visited  Tunbridge  Wells,  then  a  place  of 
much  greater  resort  than  it  is  at  present.  Here  he  met  Mr.  Cibber,  Mr.  Garrick, 
Mr.  Samuel  Richardson,  Mr.  Whiston,  Mr.  Onslow,  (the  Speaker)  Mr.  Pitt,  Mr. 
Lyttelton  and  several  other  distinguished  persons.  In  a  print,  representing  some  of 
"  the  remarkable  characters"  who  were  at  Tunbridge  Wells  in  1748,  (See  Rich- 
-<rbson's  Correspondence,)  Dr.  Johnson  stands  the  first  figure.    M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  lj 


view  to  enjoy  literary  discussion,  and  amuse  his  even-  1748. 
ing  hours.     The  members  associated  with  him  in  this  jnT? 
little  society  were  his  beloved  friend  Dr.  Richard  l>a-   39,  ' 
thurst,  Mr.  Hawkesworth,  afterwards  well   known  hv 
his  writings,  Mr.  John   Hawkins,  an  attorney,"  and  a 
iew  others  of  different  professions. 

In  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  tor  May  of  this  year 
he  wrote  a  "  Life  of  Iloscommon,"*  with  Notes  ;  which 
he  afterwards  much  improved,  (indenting  the  notes  in- 
to text,)  and  inserted  amongst  his  Lives  of  the  English 

Mr.  Dodsley  this  year  brought  out  his  Preceptor, 
one  of  the  most  valuable  books  for  the  improvement  of 
young  minds  that  has  appeared  in  any  language  ;  and 
to  this  meritorious  work  Johnson  furnished  "The  Pre- 
face,"* containing  a  general  sketch  of  the  book,  with  a 
short  and  perspicuous  recommendation  of  each  article  ; 
as  also,  "  The  Vision  of  Theodore,  the  Hermit,  found 
in  his  Cell,"*  a  most  beautiful  allegory  of  human  life, 
under  the  figure  of  ascending  the  mountain  of  Exist- 
ence. The  Bishop  of  Dromore  heard  Dr.  Johnson  say. 
that  he  thought  this  was  the  best  thing  he  ever  wrote. 

In  January,  1749,  he  published  "The  Vanity  or 
Human  Wishes,  being  the  Tenth  Satire  of  Juvenal 
imitated."*  He,  I  believe,  composed  it  the  preceding 
year.-  Mrs.  Johnson,  for  the  sake  of  country  air,  had 
lodgings  at  Hampstead,  to  which  he  resorted  occasion- 
ally, and  there  the  greatest  part,  if  not  the  whole,  of  this 
Imitation  was  written.  The  fervid  rapidity  with  which 
it  was  produced,  is  scarcely  credible.  1  have  heard 
hiin  say,  that  he  composed  seventy  lines  of  it  in  one 
day,  without  putting  one  of  them  upon  paper  till  they 
were  finished.     I  remember  when  I  once  regretted  to 

1  He  was  afterwards  for  several  years  Chairman  of  the  Middlesex  Justices,  and 
upon  occasion  of  presenting  an  address  to  the  King,  accepted  the  usual  offer  of 
Knighthood.  He  is  authour  of  "  A  History  of  Musick,"  in  five  volumes  in  quarto. 
By  assiduous  attendance  upon  Johnson  in  his  last  illness,  he  obtained  the  office  of 
one  of  his  executors ;  in  consequence  of  which,  the  booksellers  of  London  employ- 
ed him  to  publish  an  edition  of  Dr.  Johnson's  works,  and  to  write  his  Life. 

1  Sir  John  Hawkins,  with  solemn  "accuracy,  represents  this  poem  as  a  conse- 
quence of  the  indifferent  reception  of  his  tr:  gedy.  Hut  the  fact  is,  that  the  poem 
was  published  on  the  9th  of  January ,  and  :'  dy  w;ts  not  acted  till  the  'irh  of 

the  February  following. 

vol.  i.  20 

15-k  THE    LIFE    OF 

1749.  him  that  he  had  not  given  us  more  of  Juvenal's  Satires,, 
^^  he  said  he  probably  should  give  more,  for  he  had  them 
40.  all  in  his  head  ;  by  which  I  understood,  that  he  had  the 
originals  and  correspondent  allusions  floating  in  his 
mind,  which  he  could,  when  he  pleased,  embody  and 
render  permanent  without  much  labour.  Some  of 
them,  however,  he  observed  were  too  gross  for  imita- 

The  profits  of  a  single  poem,  however  excellent,  ap- 
pear to  have  been  very  small  in  the  last  reign,  compar- 
ed with  what  a  publication  of  the  same  size  has  since 
been  known  to  yield.  1  have  mentioned  upon  John- 
son's own  authority,  that  for  his  London  he  had  only 
ten  guineas  ;  and  now,  after  his  fame  was  established, 
he  got  for  his  "  Vanity  of  Human  Wishes"  but  five 
guineas  more,  as  is  proved  by  an  authentick  document 
in  my  possession. 3 

It  will  be  observed,  that  he  reserves  to  himself  the 
right  of  printing  one  edition  of  this  satire,  which  was 
his  practice  upon  occasion  of  the  sale  of  all  his  writings  ; 
it  being  his  fixed  intention  to  publish  at  some  period, 
for  his  own  profit,  a  complete  collection  of  his  works. 
His  "  V  anitv  of  Human  Wishes"  has  less  of  common 
life,  but  more  of  a  philosophick  dignity  than  his  "  Lon- 
don." More  readers,  therefore,  will  be  delighted  with 
the  pointed  spirit  of"  London,"  than  with  the  profound 
reflection  of  "  The  Vanity  of  Human  Wishes."  Gar- 
rick,  for  instance,  observed  in  his  sprightly  manner,  with 
more  vivacity  than  regard  to  just  discrimination,  as  is 
usual  with  wits,  "  When  Johnson  lived  much  with  the 
Herve}7s,  and  saw  a  good  deal  of  what  was  passing  in 
life,  he  wrote  his  '  London,'  which  is  lively  and  easy. 
When  he  became  more  retired  he  gave  us  his  '  Vanity 
of  Human  Wishes/  which  is  as  hard  as  Greek.  Had 
he  gone  on  to  imitate  another  satire,  it  would  have  been 
as  hard  as  Hebrew."4- 

5  «  Nov.  25,  1748,  I  received  of  Mr.  Dodsley  fifteen  guineas,  for  which  I  assign 
to  him  the  right  of  copy  of  an  Imitation  of  the  Tenth  Satire  of  Juvenal,  written 
by  me;  reserving  to  myself  the  right  of  printing  one  edition.         Sam.  Johnson." 

"  London,  29  June,  1786.  A  true  copy,  from  the  original  in  Dr.  Johnson's 
hand-writing.  James  Dodsley." 

4  From  Mr.  Langton. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  [55 

But  "  The  Vanity  of  Human  Wishes"  is,  in  the  opin-  L7i:'- 

ion  of  the  best  judges,  as  hi^li  an  effort  of  ethick  poe-  ^Tt" 
try  as  any  laueuaffe  can  shew.  The  instances  of  varie-  -o 
ty  of  disappointment  are  chosen  so  judiciously,  and 
painted  so  strongly,  that,  the  moment  they  are  read, 
they  bring  conviction  to  every  thinking-  mind.  That  of 
the  scholar  must  have  depressed  the  too  sanguine  ex- 
pectations of  many  an  ambitious  student. s  That  of 
the  warrior,  Charles  of  Sweden,  is,  1  think,  as  highly 
finished  a  picture  as  can  possibly  be  conceived. 

Were  all  the  other  excellencies  of  this  poem  annihi- 
lated, it  must  ever  have  our  grateful  reverence  from  its 
noble  conclusion  ;  in  which  we  are  consoled  with  the 
assurance  that  happiness  may  be  attained,  if  we  "  ap- 
ply our  hearts"  to  piety  : 

"  Where  then  shall  hope  and  fear  their  objects  find  ! 

"Shall  dull  suspense  corrupt  the  stagnant  mind  ! 

"  Must  helpless  man  in  ignorance  sedate, 

"  Roll  darkling  down  the  torrent  of  his  fate  ? 

"  Shall  no  dislike  alarm,  no  wishes  rise, 

"  No  cries  attempt  the  mercy  of  the  skies  ? 

"Inquirer,  cease  ;  petitions  yet  remain, 

"•Which  Heav'n  mav  hear,  nor  deem  Religion  vain. 

"Still  raise  for  good  the  supplicating  voice, 

"  But  leave  to  Heaven  the  measure  and  the  choice. 

s  In  this  poem  one  of  the  instances  mentioned  of  unfortunate  learned  men  is  Lyd- 
iat  : 

"  Hear  Lydiat's  life,  and  Galileo's  end." 
The  History  of  Lydiat  being  little  known,  the  following  account  of  him  may  be 
acceptable  to  many  of  my  readers.     It  appeared  as  a  note  in  the  Supplement  to 
the  Gentleman's  Magazine  for  1748,  in  which  some  passages  extracted  from  John- 
son's poem  were  inserted,  and  it  should  have  been  added  in   the  subsequent  edi- 
tions.— A  very  learned  divine  and  mathematician,  fellow  of  New  College,  Oxort, 
and   Rector  of  Okerton,  near  Banbury.     He  wrote,  among  many  others,  a  Latin 
treatise  '  De  natura  cali,  fsfc.'  in  which  he  attacked  the  sentiments  of  Scaligcr  and 
Aristotle,  not  bearing  to  hear  it  urged,  that  somethings  are  true  in  philosophy  and  fait 
in  divinity.     He  made  above  600  Sermons  on  the  harmony  of  the  Evangelists.     Be- 
ing unsuccessful  in  publishing  his  works,  he  lay  in  the  prison  of  Bocardo  at  Oxford, 
and  in  the  King's  Bench,   till  Bishop  Usher,  Dr.  Laud,   Sir  William  Boswell,  and 
Dr.  Pink,  released  him  by  paying  his  debts.     He  petitioned  King  Charles  I.  to  bi 
sent  into  Ethiopia,  &c.  to  procure  MSS.     Having  spoken  in  favour  of  Monarchy 
and  bishops,  he  was  plundered  by  the  parliament  forces,  and  twice  carried  awaj 
prisoner  from  his  rectory  ;  and  afterwards   had  not  a  shirt   to  shift  him  in  three 
months,  without  he  borrowed  it,  and  died  very  poor  in  1646." 


THE    LIFE    OF 

1749.  "  Safe  in  His  hand,  whose  eye  discerns  afar 
iEtat!  "The  secret  ambush  of  a  specious  prayer  ; 
40.    "  Implore  his  aid,  in  his  decisions  rest, 

"  Secure  whate'er  he  gives  he  gives  the  best, 

"  Yet  when  the  sense  of  sacred  presence  fires, 

"  And  strong  devotion  to  the  skies  aspires, 

"  Pour  forth  thy  fervours  for  a  healthful  mind, 

"  Obedient  passions,  and  a  will  resign'd  ; 

"  For  love,  which  scarce  collective  man  can  fill ; 

"  For  patience,  sovereign  o'er  transmuted  ill ; 

"  For  faith,  which  panting  for  a  happier  seat, 

"  Counts  death  kind  Nature's  signal  for  retreat, 

"These  goods  for  man  the  laws  of  Heaven  ordain, 

"  These  goods  he  grants,  who  grants  the  power  to  gain  ; 

"  With  these  celestial  wisdom  calms  the  mind, 

"  And  makes  the  happiness  she  does  not  find."6 

Garrick  being  now  vested  with  theatrical  power  by 
being  manager  of  Drurv-lane  theatre,  he  kindly  and 
generously  made  use  of  it  to  bring  out  Johnson's  trage- 
dy, which  had  been  long  kept  back  for  want  of  encour- 
agement. But  in  this  benevolent  purpose  he  met  with 
no  small  difficulty  from  the  temper  of  Johnson,  which 
could  not  brook  that  a  drama  which  he  had  formed  with 

[In  this  poem,  a  line  in  which  the  danger  attending  on  female  beauty  is  men- 
tioned, has  very  generally,  I  believe,  been  misunderstood  : 

"  Yet  Vane  could  tell  what  ills  from  beauty  spring, 
"  And  Sedley  curs'd  the  form  that  pleas 'd  a  king." 
The  lady  mentioned  in  the  first  of  these  verses,  was  not  the  celebrated  Lady 
Vane,  whose  memoirs  were  given  to  the  publick  by  Dr.  Smollett,  but  Anne  Vane, 
who  was  mistress  to  Frederick  Prince  of  Wales,  and  died  in  1 736,  not  long  before 
Johnson  settled  in  London.  Some  account  of  this  lady  was  published,  under  the 
title  of  The  Secret  History  of  Vanella,  8vo.,  1732.  See  also  Vanella  in  the  Straw, 
4to.,  1732.  In  Mr.  Boswell's  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  we  find  some  observations, 
respecting  the  lines  in  question  : 

"  In  Dr.  Johnson's  Vanity  of  Human  Wishes  there  is  the  following  passage  : 
"  The  teeming  mother  anxious  for  her  race, 
"  Begs  for  each  birth  the  fortune  of  a  face ; 
"  Yet  Vane,"  &c. 
a  Lord  Hailes  told  him,  [Johnson]  he  was  mistaken  in  the  instances  he  had  giv- 
en of  unfortunate  fair  ones,  for  neither  Vane  nor  Sedley  had  a  title  to  that  descrip- 
tion."— His  lordship  therefore  thought  fit  that  the  lines  should  rather  have  run 
thus  : 

Yet  Shore  could  tell 

And  Valiere  curs'd 

"  Our  friend  (he  adds  in  a  subsequent  note,  addressed  to  Mr.  Boswell  on  this 
subject)  chose  Vane,  who  was  far  from  being  well-look'd,  and  Sedley,  who  was  so 
ugly  that  Charles  II.  said — his  brother  had  her  by  way  of  penance."     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  \jj 

much  study,  and  had  been  obliged  to  keep  more  than  1749. 
the  nine  years  of  Horace,  should  be  revised  and  altered  a?}^ 
at  the  pleasure  of  an  actor.     Yet  Garrick   knew  well.   40. 
that  without  some  alterations  it   would   not   be   fit   for 
the  stage.     A   violent  dispute  having  ensued  betwe<  n 
them,  Garrick  applied  to  the  Reverend  Dr.  Taylor  to 
interpose.     Johnson  was  at  first  very  obstinate.         Sir. 
(said  he)  the  fellow  wants  me  to  make  Mahonu  l  run 
mad,  that  he  may  have  an   opportunity  of  tossing   his 
hands  and  kicking  his  heels."7      He  was,  however,  at 
last,  with  difficulty,  prevailed  on   to  comply  with  Gar- 
rick's  wishes,  so  as  to  allow  of  some  changes  ;  but  still 
there  were  not  enough. 

Dr.  Adams  was  present  the  first  night  of  the  repre- 
sentation of  Irene,  and  gave  me  the  following  ac- 
count :  "  Before  the  curtain  drew  up,  there  were  cat- 
calls whistling,  which  alarmed  Johnson's  friends.  The 
Prologue,  which  was  written  by  himself  in  a  manly 
strain,  soothed  the  audience,8  and  the  play  went  ofl 
tolerablv,  till  it  came  to  the  conclusion,  when  Mrs. 
Pritchard,  the  Heroine  of  the  piece,  was  to  be  strangled 
upon  the  stage, and  was  to  speak  two  lines  with  the  bow 
string  round  her  neck.  The  audience  cried  out  "  Mur- 
der  !  Murder  /"9  She  several  times  attempted  to  speak  ; 
but  in  vain.     At  last  she  was  obliged  to  2-0  offthe  stage 

'  Mahomet  was  in  fact  played  by  Mr.  Barry,  and  Demetrius  by  Mr.  Garrick 
but  probably  at  this  time  the  parts  were  not  yet  cast. 

*  The  expression  used  by  Dr.  Adams  was  "  soothed."     I  should  rather  think  the 
tudience  was  aived  by  the  extraordinary  spirit  and  dignity  of  the  following  lines  : 
"  Be  this  at  least  his  praise,  be  tins  his  pride,    . 
"  To  force  applause  no  modern  arts  are  tried  : 
"  Should  partial  catcalls  all  his  hopes  confound, 
"  He  bids  no  trumpet  quell  the  fatal  sound  ; 
"  Should  welcome  sleep  relieve  the  weary  wit, 
"  He  rolls  no  thunders  o'er  the  drowsy  pit  ; 
"  No  snares  to  captivate  the  judgement  spreads, 
"  Nor  bribes  your  eyes  to  prejudice  your  heads. 
"  Unmov'd,  though  witlings  sneer  and  rivals  rail, 
"  Studious  to  please,  yet  not  asham'd  to  fail, 
"  He  scorns  the  meek  address,  the  suppliant  strait*. 
"  With  merit  needless,  and  without  it  vain  ; 
"  In  Reason,  Nature,  Truth,  he  dares  to  trust ; 
"  Ye  fops  be  silent,  and  ye  wits  be  just  ! 

v  [This  shews,  how  ready  modern  audiences  are  to  condemn  in  a  new  play 
they  have  frequently  endured  very  quietly  in  an  old  one.     Rowe  has  made  Monc- 
ses  in  Tamerlane  die  by  the  bow-string,  without  offence.     M.] 

158  THE    LIFE    Ot 

1749.  alive."     This  passage  was  afterwards  struck  out,  and 

gfa^ sne  was  carrie(l  °il  to  '3e  put  to  death  behind  the 
40.  scenes,  as  the  play  now  has  it.  The  Epilogue,  as  John- 
son informed  me,  was  written  by  Sir  William  Yonge. 
I  know  not  how  his  play  came  to  be  thus  graced  by  the 
pen  of  a  person  then  so  eminent  in  the  political  world. 
Notwithstanding  all  the  support  of  such  performers  as 
Garrick,  Barry,  Mrs.  Cibber,  Mrs.  Pritchard,  and  eve- 
ry advantage  of  dress  and  decoration,  the  tragedy  of 
Irene  did  not  please  the  publick.1  Mr.  Garrick's  zeal 
carried  it  through  for  nine  nights,  so  that  the  authour 
had  his  three  nights'  profits  ;  and  from  a  receipt  signed 
by  him,  now  in  the  hands  of  Mr.  James  Dodsley,  it  ap- 
pears that  his  friend,  Mr.  Jtiobert  Dodsley,  gave  him 
one  hundred  pounds  for  the  copy,  with  his  usual  reser- 
vation of  the  right  of  one  edition. 

Irene,  considered  as  a  poem,  is  entitled  to  the  praise 
of  superiour  excellence.  Analysed  into  parts,  it  will 
furnish  a  rich  store  of  noble  sentiments,  fine  imagery, 
and  beautiful  language  ;  but  it  is  deficient  in  pathos, 
in  that  delicate  power  of  touching  the  human  feelings, 
which  is  the  principal  end  of  the  drama.2  Indeed 
Garrick  has  complained  to  me,  that  Johnson  not  only 
had  not  the  faculty  of  producing  the  impressions  of 
tragedy,  but  that  he  had  not  the  sensibility  to  perceive 
them.  His  great  friend  Mr.  Walmsley's  prediction, 
that  he  would  "  turn  out  a  fine  tragedy-writer,"  was, 
therefore,  ill-founded.  Johnson  was  wise  enough  to 
be  convinced  that  he  had  not  the  talents  necessary  to 

1  [I  know  not  what  Sir  John  Hawkins  means  by  the  cold  reception  of  Irlxe. 
[See  note,  p.  164].  I  was  at  the  first  representation,  and  most  of  the  subsequent-. 
It  was  much  applauded  the  first  night,  particularly  the  speech  on  to-morrow.  It 
ran  nine  nights  at  least.  It  did  not  indeed  become  a  stock-play,  but  there  was 
not  the  least  opposition  during  the  representation,  except  the  first  night  in  the  last 
act,  where  Irene  was  to  be  strangled  on  the  stage,  which  John  could  not  bear, 
though  a  dramatick  poet  may  stab  or  slay  by  hundreds.  The  bow-string  was  not 
a  Christian  nor  an  ancient  Greek  or  Roman  death.  But  this  offence  was  remov- 
ed after  the  first  night,  and  Irene  went  off  the  stage  to  be  strangled. — Many  sto- 
ries were  circulated  at  the  time  of  the  authour's  being  observed  at  the  representa- 
tion to  be  dissatisfied  with  some  of  the  speeches  and  conduct  of  the  play,  himself ; 
and,  like  la  Fontaine,  expressing  his  disapprobation  aloud.     B.] 

2  Aaron  Hill  (Vol.  II.  p.  355,)  in  a  letter  to  Mr.  Mallet,  gives  the  following  ac- 
count of  Irene  after  having  seen  it  :  "  I  was  at  the  anomalous  Mr.  Johnson's  ben- 
efit, and  found  the  play  his  proper  representative  ;  strong  sense  ungraced  by 
sweetness  or  decorum." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  159 

write  successfully  for  the  Stage,  and  never  made  another  1749. 
attempt  in  that  species  of  composition.  xw 

When  asked  how  he  felt  upon  the  ill  success  of  his  40. 
tragedy,  he  replied,  "  Like  the  Monument  ;"  meaning 
that  he  continued  firm  and  unmoved  as  that  column. 
And  let  it  be  remembered,  as  an  admonition  to  the  ge- 
ms  irritabile  of  dramatick  writers,  that  this  great  man, 
instead  of  peevishly  complaining  of  the  bad  taste  of  the 
town,  submitted  to  its  decision  without  a  murmur.  He 
had,  indeed,  upon  all  occasions  a  great  deference  for 
the  general  opinion  :  "  A  man  (said  he)  who  writes  a 
book,  thinks  himself  wiser  or  wittier  than  the  rest  of 
mankind  ;  he  supposes  that  he  can  instruct  or  amuse 
them,  and  the  publick  to  whom  he  appeals,  must,  after 
all,  be  the  judges  of  his  pretensions." 

On  occasion  of  this  play  being  brought  upon  the 
stage,  Johnson  had  a  fancy  that  as  a  dramatick  authour 
his  dress  should  be  more  gay  than  what  he  ordinarily 
wore  ;  he  therefore  appeared  behind  the  scenes,  and 
even  in  one  of  the  side  boxes,  in  a  scarlet  waistcoat, 
with  rich  gold  lace,  and  a  gold-laced  hat.  He  humour- 
ously observed  to  Mr.  Langton,  "  that  when  in  that 
dress  he  could  not  treat  people  with  the  same  ease  as 
when  in  his  usual  plain  clothes."  Dress  indeed,  we 
must  allow  has  more  effect  even  upon  strong  minds 
than  one  should  suppose,  without  having  had  the  ex- 
perience of  it.  His  necessary  attendance  while  his 
play  was  in  rehearsal,  and  during  its  performance, 
brought  him  acquainted  with  many  of  the  performers 
of  both  sexes,  which  produced  a  more  favourable  opin- 
ion of  their  profession  than  he  had  harshly  expressed  in 
his  Life  of  Savage.  With  some  of  them  he  kept  up  an 
acquaintance  as  long  as  he  and  they  lived,  and  was 
ever  ready  to  shew  them  acts  of  kindness.  He  for  a 
considerable  time  used  to  frequent  the  Green-Ruum, 
and  seemed  to  take  delight  in  dissipating  his  gloom,  by 
mixing  in  the  sprightly  chit-chat  of  the  motley  circle 
then  to  be  found  there.  Mr.  David  Hume  related  to 
me  from  Mr.  Garrick,  that  Johnson  at  last  denied  him- 
self this  amusement,  from  considerations  of  rigid  vir- 
tue;  saving,  "  V\\  come  no  more  behind  your  scenes, 

160  THE    LIFE    01< 

1750.  David  ;  for  the  silk  stockings  and  white  bosoms  of  your 
^^  actresses  excite  my  amorous  propensities." 
41.  In  1750  he  came  forth  in  the  character  for  which  he 
was  eminently  qualified,  a  majestick  teacher  of  moral 
and  religious  wisdom.  The  vehicle  which  he  chose 
was  that  of  a  periodical  paper,  which  he  knew  had  been, 
upon  former  occasions,  employed  with  great  success. 
The  Tatler,  Spectator,  and  Guardian,  were  the  last  of 
the  kind  published  in  England,  which  had  stood  the 
test  of  a  long  trial ;  and  such  an  interval  had  now 
elapsed  since  their  publication,  as  made  him  justly 
think  that,  to  many  of  his  readers,  this  form  of  instruc- 
tion would,  in  some  degree,  have  the  advantage  of  nov- 
elty. A  few  days  before  the  first  of  his  Essays  came 
out,  there  started  another  competitor  for  fame  in  the 
same  form,  under  the  title  of  "  The  Tatler  Revived," 
which  I  believe  was  "  born  but  to  die."  Johnson  was, 
I  think,  not  very  happy  in  the  choice  of  his  title, — 
"  The  Rambler  ;"  which  certainly  is  not  suited  to  a 
series  of  grave  and  moral  discourses  ;  which  the  Italians 
have  literally,  but  ludicrously,  translated  by  //  Vuga- 
bondo  ;  and  which  has  been  lately  assumed  as  the  de- 
nomination of  a  vehicle  of  licentious  tales,  "The  Ramb- 
ler's Magazine."  He  gave  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  the 
following  account  of  its  getting  this  name  :  "  What 
must  be  done,  Sir,  will  be  done.  When  1  was  to  begin 
publishing  that  paper,  1  was  at  a  loss  how  to  name  it. 
I  sat  down  at  night  upon  my  bedside,  and  resolved  that 
I  would  not  go  to  sleep  till  I  had  fixed  its  title.  The 
Rambler  seemed  the  best  that  occurred,  and  1  took  it."3 
With  what  devout  and  conscientious  sentiments  this 
paper  was  undertaken,  is  evidenced  by  the  following 
prayer,  which  he  composed  and  offered  up  on  the  oc- 
casion :  "  Almighty  God,  the  giver  of  all  good  things, 

'  I  have  heard  Dr.  Warton  mention,  that  he  was  at  Mr.  Robert  Dodsley's  with 
the  late  Mr.  Moore,  and  several  of  his  friends,  considering  what  should  be  the 
name  of  the  periodical  paper  which  Moore  had  undertaken.  Garrick  proposed 
the  Saliad,  which,  by  a  curious  coincidence,  was  afterwards  applied  to  himself  by 
Goldsmith  : 

"  Our  Garrick's    a  saliad,  for  in  him  we  see 
"  Oil,  vinegar,  sugar,  and  saltness  agree !  " 
At  last,  the  company  having  separated,  without  any  thing  of  which  they  approved 
haying  been  offered,  Dodsley  himself  thought  of  The  W$rld. 

DR.   JOHNSON.  161 

without  whose  help  all  labour  is  ineffectual,  and  with-  *750. 

out  whose  grace  all  wisdom  is  folly  :  grant,  1  beseeeh  ^^ 
Thee,  that  in  this  undertaking  thy  Holy  Spirit  may  not   41. 
be  with-held  from  me,   but  that   I  may  promote  thy 
glory,  and   the  salvation  of  myself  and  others  :  grant 
this,  O  Lord,  for  the  sake  of  thy  son,  Jesus  Christ. 

The  first  paper  of  the  Rambler  was  published  on 
Tuesday  the  20th  of  March,  1749-jO  ;  and  its  authour 
was  enabled  to  continue  it,  without  interruption,  every 
Tuesday  and  Saturday,  till  Saturday  the  17th  of  March,6 
17*32,  on  which  day  it  closed.  This  is  a  strong-  con- 
firmation of  the  truth  of  a  remark  of  his,  which  I  have 
had  occasion  to  quote  elsewhere,7  that  "a  man  may 
write  at  any  time,  if  he  will  set  himself  doggedly  to 
it ;"  for,  notwithstanding  his  constitutional  indolence, 
his  depression  of  spirits,  and  his  labour  in  carrying  on 
his  Dictionary,  he  answered  the  stated  calls  of  the 
press  twice  a  week  from  the  stores  of  his  mind,  during 
all  that  time;  having  received  no  assistance,  except 
four  billets  in  No.  10,  by  Miss  Mulso,  now  Mrs.  Cha- 
pone  ;  No.  :30,  by  Mrs.  Catharine  Talbot ;  No.  97,  by 
Mr.  Samuel  Richardson,  whom  he  describes  in  an  in- 
troductory note  as  "  x\n  authour  who  has  enlarged  the 
knowledge  of  human  nature  and  taught  the  pas- 
sions to  move  at  the  command  of  virtue  ;"  and  Num- 
bers 4-1  and  100,  bv  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Carter. 

Posterity  will  be  astonished  when  they  are  told,  up- 
on the  authority  of  Johnson  himself,  that  many  of 
these  discourses,  which  we  should  suppose  had  been 
laboured  with  all  the  slow  attention  of  literary  leisure, 
were  written  in  haste  as  the  moment  pressed,  without 
even  being  read  over  by  him  before  they  were  printed. 

It  can  be  accounted  for   only  in   this  way  ;  that  by 

4  Prayers  and  Atfeditations,  p.  9. 

6  [This  is  a  mistake,  into  which  the  authour  was  very  pardonably  led  by  the  in- 
accuracy of  the  original  folio  edition  of  the  Rambler,  in  which  the  concluding  pa- 
per of  that  work  is  dated  on  "  Saturday,  March  17."  But  Saturday  was  in  fact 
the  fourteenth  of  March.  This  circumstance,  though  it  may  at  first  appear  of  very 
little  importance,  is  yet  worth  notice  ;  for  Mrs.  Johnson  died  on  the  twcnttentb  ol 
March.     M.] 

7  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides  3d  edit.  p.  28 

VOh.   T.  21 

162  THE    LIFE    OP 

1750.  reading  and  meditation,  and  a  very  close  inspection  of 
j^2h  life,  he  had  accumulated  a  great  fund  of  miscellaneous 
41.  knowledge,  which,  by  a  peculiar  promptitude  of  mind, 
was  ever  ready  at  his  call,  and  which  he  had  constantly 
accustomed  himself  to  clothe  in  the  most  apt  and  en- 
ergetick  expression.  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  once  asked 
him  by  what  means  he  had  attained  his  extraordinary 
,  accuracy  and  flow  of  language.  He  told  him,  that  he 
had  early  laid  it  down  as  a  fixed  rule  to  do  his  best  on 
every  occasion,  and  in  every  company  :  to  impart 
whatever  he  knew  in  the  most  forcible  language  he 
could  put  it  in  ;  and  that  by  constant  practice,  and 
never  suffering  any  careless  expressions  to  escape  him, 
or  attempting  to  deliver  his  thoughts  without  arranging 
them  in  the  clearest  manner,  it  became  habitual  to  him.8 
Yet  he  was  not  altogether  unprepared  as  a  periodical 
writer  ;  for  I  have  in  my  possession  a  small  duodecimo 
volume,  in  which  he  has  written,  in  the  form  of  Mr. 
Locke's  Common-Place  Book,  a  variety  of  hints  for 
essays  on  different  subjects.  He  has  marked  upon  the 
first  blank  leaf  of  it,  "  To  the  128th  page,  collections 
for  the  Rambler  ;"  and  in  another  place,  "  In  fifty-two 
there  were  seventeen  provided;  in  97 — 21 ;  in  190 — 25." 
At  a  subsequent  period  (probably  after  the  work  was 
finished)  he  added,  "  In  all,  taken  of  provided  mate- 
rials, 30." 

Sir  John  Hawkins,  who  is  unlucky  upon  all  occa- 
sions, tells  us,  that  "  this  method  of  accumulating  in- 
telligence had  been  practised  by  Mr.  Addison,  and  is 
humourously  described  in  one  of  the  Spectators, 
wherein  he  feigns  to  have  dropped  his  paper  of  notanda, 
consisting  of  a  diverting  medley  of  broken  sentences  and 
loose  hints,  which  he  tells  us  he  had  collected,  and 
meant  to  make  use  of.  Much  of  the  same  kind  is 
Johnson's  Adversaria."9  But  the  truth  is,  that  there  is 
no  resemblance  at  all  between  them.     Addison's  note 

8  [The  rule  which  Dr.  Johnson  observed,  is  sanctioned  by  the  authority  of  two 
great  writers  of  antiquity :  "  Ne  id  quidem  tacendum  est,  quod  eidem  Ciceroni  pla- 
cuit,  nullum  nostrum  usqusm  negligentem  esse  sermonem  :  guicquid  ioquemur,  ubicun- 
que,  sit  fro  sua  scilktt  fordone  perfectum."     Quinctil.  X.  7.      M.] 

9  Hawkins's  Life  of  Johnson,  p.  268. 

DR.   JOHNSON.  !6 



was  a  fiction,  in  which  unconnected  fragments  of  his  1750 
lucubrations  were   purposely  jumbled  together,  in  as  ^^ 
odd  a  manner  as  he  could,  in  order  to  produce  a  laugh-    41. 
able  effect.      Whereas  Johnson's  abbreviations  are   all 
distinct,  and  applicable  to  each  subject   of  which  the 
head  is  mentioned. 

For  instance,  there  is  the  following  specimen  : 

Youth's  Entry,  §c. 

"  Baxter's  account  of  things  in  which  he  had  chang- 
ed his  mind  as  he  grew  up.  Voluminous. — -No  won- 
der.— If  every  man  was  to  tell,  or  mark,  on  how  many 
subjects  he  has  changed,  it  would  make  vols,  but  the 
changes  not  always  observed  by  man's  self. — From 
pleasure  to  bus.  [business]  to  quiet ;  from  thoughtful- 
ness  to  reflect,  to  piety  ;  from  dissipation  to  domestic, 
by  impercept.  gradat.  but  the  change  is  certain.  Dial 
non  progredi,  progress,  esse  conspicimus.  Look  back, 
consider  what  was  thought  at  some  dist.  period. 

"  Hope  predoru.  in  youth.  Mind  not  willingly  indulges 
unpleasing  thoughts.  The  world  lies  all  enamelled  be- 
fore him,  as  a  distant  prospect  sun-gilt ; ' — inequalities 
only  found  by  coming  to  it.  Love  is  to  be  all  joy — 
children  excellent — Fame  to  be  constant — caresses  of 
the  great — applauses  of  the  learned — smiles  of  Beauty. 

"  Fear  of  disgrace — Baslifulness — Finds  things  of 
less  importance.  Miscarriages  forgot  like  excellencies  ; 
— if  remembered,  of  no  import.  Danger  of  sinking 
into  negligence  of  reputation  ; — lest  the  fear  of  disgrace 
destroy  activity. 

"  Confidence  in  himself.  Long  tract  of  life  before 
him. — No  thought  of  sickness. — Embarrassment  of  af- 
fairs. — Distraction  of  family.  Publick  calamities. — No 
sense  of  the  prevalence  of  bad  habits.  Negligent  of 
time — ready  to  undertake — careless  to  pursue — all 
changed  by  time. 

"  Confident  of  others — unsuspecting  as  unexperi- 
enced— imagining  himself  secure  against  neglect,  never 
imagines  they  will  venture  to  treat  him  ill.     Beady  to 

1  This  most  beautiful  image  of  the  enchanting  delusion  of  youthful  prospect  has 
not  been  used  in  any  of  Johnson's  essays. 

164  THE    LIFE    Of 

1750.  trust ;  expecting  to  be  trusted.     Convinced  by  time  of 
jT^  the  selfishness,  the  meanness,  the  cowardice,  the  treach- 
41.  '  eiy  of  men. 

"  Youth  ambitious,  as  thinking  honours  easy  to  be 

"  Different  kinds  of  praise  pursued  at  different  peri- 
ods.    Of  the  gay  in  youth. — dang,  hurt,  &c.  despised. 

"  Of  the  fancy  in  manhood.  Ambit.— stocks — bar- 
gains.— Of  the  wise  and  sober  in  old  age — seriousness 
— formality — maxims,  but  general — only  of  the  rich, 
otherwise  age  is  happy — but  at  last  every  thing  referred 
to  riches — no  having  fame,  honour,  influence,  without 
subjection  to  caprice. 

"  Horace. 

"  Hard  it  would  be  if  men  entered  life  with  the  same 
views  with  which  they  leave  it,  or  left  as  they  enter  it. — 
No  hope — no  undertaking — no  regard  to  benevolence — 
no  fear  of  disgrace,  &c. 

"  Youth  to  be  taught  the  piety  of  age — age  to  retain 
the  honour  of  vouth." 

This,  it  will  be  observed,  is  the  sketch  of  Number 
196  of  the  Rambler.  I  shall  gratify  my  readers  with 
another  specimen : 

"  Confederacies  difficult ;  why. 

"  Seldom  in  war  a  match  for  single  persons — nor  in 
peace  ;  therefore  kings  make  themselves  absolute. 
Confederacies  in  learning — every  great  work  the  work 
of  one.  Bruy.  Scholars'  friendship  like  ladies.  Scri- 
be! lamus,  &c.  Mart.*  The  apple  of  discord — the  laurel 
of  discord — the  poverty  of  criticism.  Swift's  opinion  of 
the  power  of  six  geniuses  united.  That  union  scarce 
possible.  His  remarks  just  ; — man  a  social,  not  steady 
nature.  Drawn  to  man  by  words,  repelled  by  passions. 
Orb  drawn  by  attraction,  rep.  \repel/ed~\  by  centrifugal. 

"  Common  danger  unites  by  crushing  other  passions 
— but  they  return.  Equality  hinders  compliance.  Su- 
periority produces  insolence  and  envy.  Too  much  re- 
gard in  each  to  private  interest ; — too  little. 

[Lib.  xii.  96.  "  In  Tuccam  smulum  omnium  suorum  studiorum."     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  l6o 

"  The  mischiefs  of  private  and  exclusive  societies —  1750. 
The  fitness  of   social   attraction    diffused  through  the  JjJ££ 
whole.     The  mischiefs  of  too  partial  love  of  our  coun-   41. 
try.     Contraction  of  moral  duties. — -Oi  <piKa,  a  p^o,-. 

"  Every  man  moves  upon  his  own  center,  and  there- 
fore repels  others  from  too  near  a  contact,  though  he 
may  comply  with  some  general  laws. 

"  Of  confederacy  with  superiors  every  one  knows  the 
inconvenience.  With  equals,  no  authority  ; — every 
man  his  own  opinion — his  own  interest. 

"  Man  and  wife  hardly  united  ; — scarce  ever  without 
children.  Computation,  if  two  to  one  against  two, 
how  many  against  five  ?  If  confederacies  were  easy — 
useless  ; — many  oppresses  many. — If  possible  only  to 
some,  dangerous.     Principum  amicitias" 

Here  we  see  the  embrvo  of  Number  \5  of  the  Ad- 
venturer  ;  and  it  is  a  confirmation  of  what  I  shall  pres- 
ently have  occasion  to  mention,  that  the  papers  in  that 
collection  marked  T.  were  written  by  Johnson. 

This  scanty  preparation  of  materials  will  not,  howev- 
er, much  diminish  our  wonder  at  the  extraordinary  fer- 
tility  of  his  mind  ;  for  the  proportion  which  they  bear 
to  the  number  of  essays  which  he  wrote,  is  very  small ; 
and  it  is  remarkable,  that  those  for  which  he  had  made 
no  preparation,  are  as  rich  and  as  highly  finished,  as 
those  for  which  the  hints  were  lying  by  him.  it  is  also 
to  be  observed,  that  the  papers  formed  from  his  hints 
are  worked  up  with  such  strength  and  elegance,  that 
we  almost  lose  sight  of  the  hfnts,  which  become  like 
"  drops  in  the  bucket."  Indeed,  in  several  instances, 
he  has  made  a  very  slender  use  of  them,  so  that  many 
of  them  remain  still  unapplied.2 

2  Sir  John  Hawkins  has  selected  from  this  little  collection  of  materials,  what  h? 
alls  the  "  Rudiments  of  two  of  the  papers  of  the  Rambler."  But  he  has  not  been 
able  to  read  the  manuscript  distinctly.  Thus  he  writes,  p.  266,  "  Sailor's  fate  any 
mansion  ;"  whereas  the  original  is  "  Sailor's  life  my  aversion."  He  has  also  trans- 
cribed the  unappropriated  hints  on  Writers  for  bread,  in  which  he  decyphers  these 
notable  passages,  one  in  Ldtin,  fitui  nonfama  instead  of fzmi  nonfima  ;  Johnson  hav- 
ing in  his  mind  what  Thuanus  says  of  the  learned  German  antiquary  and  linguist. 
Xylander,  who,  he  tells  us,  lived  in  such  poverty,  that  he  was  supposedy^**;'  nonfima: 
icribcre  ;  and  another  in  French,  Degente  de  fate  et  ajfame  d'argent,  instead  of  Dcgoutt 
de  fame,  (an  old  word  for  renommee)  et  affame  d'argent.  The  manuscript  being  writ- 
ten in  an  exceedingly  small  hand,  is  indeed  very  hard  to  read  ;  but  it  would  have 
be  -'i  better  to  have  left  blanks  than  to  write  nonsense. 

166  THE    LIFE    OF 

1750.  As  the  Rambler  was  entirely  the  work  of  one  man, 
Mua.  there  was,  of  course,  such  a  uniformity  in  its  texture,  as 
41.  very  much  to  exclude  the  charm  of  variety  ;  and  the 
grave  and  often  solemn  cast  of  thinking,  which  distin- 
guished it  from  other  periodical  papers,  made  it,  for 
some  time,  not  generally  liked.  So  slowly  did  this  ex- 
cellent work,  of  which  twelve  editions  have  now  issued 
from  the  press,  gain  upon  the  world  at  large,  that  even 
in  the  closing  number  the  authour  says,  "  I  have  never 
been  much  a  favourite  of  the  publick."3 

Yet,  very  soon  after  its  commencement,  there  were 
who  felt  and  acknowledged  its  uncommon  excellence. 
Verses  in  its  praise  appeared  in  the  newspapers ;  and 
the  editor  of  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  mentions,  in 
October,  his  having  received  several  letters  to  the  same 
purpose  from  the  learned.  "  The  Student,  or  Oxford 
and  Cambridge  Miscellany,"  in  which  Mr.  Bonnei 
Thornton  and  Mr.  Colinan  were  the  principal  writers, 
describes  it  as  "  a  work  that  exceeds  any  thing  of  the 
kind  ever  published  in  this  kingdom,  some  of  the  Spec- 
tators excepted, — if  indeed  they  may  be    excepted." 

3  [The  Ramblers  certainly  were  little  noticed  at  first.  Smart,  the  poet,  first  men- 
tioned them  to  me  as  excellent  papers,  before  I  had  heard  any  one  else  speak  of 
them.  When  I  went  into  Norfolk,  in  the  autumn  of  1751,  I  found  but  one  person, 
(the  Rev.  Mr.  Squires,  a  man  of  learning,  and  a  general  purchaser  of  new  books,) 
who  knew  any  thing  of  them.  But  he  had  been  misinformed  concerning  the  true 
authour,  for  he  had  been  told  they  were  written  by  a  Mr.  Johnson  of  Canterbury, 
the  son  of  a  clergyman  who  had  had  a  controversy  with  Bentley  :  and  who  had 
changed  the  readings  of  the  old  ballad  entitled  Norton  Falgate,  in  Bentley's  bold 
style,  (meo  perhulo)  till  not  a  single  word  of  the  original  song  was  left.  Before  I 
left  Norfolk  in  the  year  1760,  the  Ramblers  were  in  high  favour  among  persons 
of  learning  and  good  taste.  Others  there  were,  devoid  of  both,  who  said  that  the 
bard  ivords  in  the  Rambler  were  used  by  the  authour  to  render  his  Dictionary  in- 
dispensably necessary.     B.] 

[It  may  not  be  improper  to  correct  a  slight  errour  in  the  preceding  note,  though 
it  does  not  at  all  affect  the  principal  object  of  Dr.  Burney's  remark.  The  clergy- 
man above  alluded  to,  was  Mr.  Richard  Johnson,  Schoolmaster  at  Nottingham, 
who  in  1717  published  an  octavo  volume  in  Latin,  against  Bentley's  edition  of 
Horace,  entitled  Aristarchus  Anti-Bentleianus.  In  the  middle  of  this  Latin 
work  (as  Mr.  Bindley  observes  to  me,)  he  has  introduced  four  pages  of  English  crit- 
icism, in  which  he  ludicrously  corrects,  in  Bentley's  manner,  one  stanza,  not  of  the 
ballad  the  hero  of  which  lived  in  Norton  Falgate,  but  of  a  ballad  celebrating  the 
achievements  of  Tom  Bostock  ;  who  in  a  sea-fight  performed  prodigies  of  valour. 
The  stanza,  on  which  tins  ingenious  writer  has  exercised  his  wit,  is  as  follows  : 

"  Then  old  Tom  Bostock  he  fell  to  the  work, 

"  He  pray'd  like  a  Christian,  but  fought  like  a  Turk. 

"  And  cut  'em  off  all  in  a  jerk, 

"  Which  nobody  can  deny,"  &c.  M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  I67 

.And  afterwards,  "  May  the  puhlick  favours  crown  his  1750. 
merits,  and  may  not  the   English,  under  the  auspicious  £Q£ 
reig-n  of  George  the  Second,  neglect  a  man,  who,  had    4].  " 
he  Jived  in   the  first  century  would  have  been  one  of 
the  greatest  favourites  of  Augustus."     This  flattery  of 
the  monarch  had  no  effect,     it  is  too  well  known,  that 
the  second  George  never  was  an  Augustus  to  learning 
or  genius. 

Johnson  told  me,  with  an  amiable  fondness,  a  little 
pleasing  circumstance  relative  to  this  work.  Mrs. 
Johnson,  in  whose  judgement  and  taste  he  had  great 
confidence,  said  to  him,  after  a  few  numbers  of  the 
Rambler  had  come  out,  "  1  thought  very  well  of  you 
before  ;  but  I  did  not  imagine  you  could  have  written 
any  thing  equal  to  this."  Distant  praise,  from  whatev- 
er quarter,  is  not  so  delightful  as  that  of  a  wife  whom 
a  man  loves  and  esteems.  Her  approbation  may  be 
said  to  "  come  home  to  his  bosom ;"  and  being  so  near, 
its  effect  is  most  sensible  and  permanent. 

Mr.  James  Elphinston,  who  has  since  published  va- 
rious works,  and  who  was  ever  esteemed  by  Johnson  as 
a  worthy  man,  happened  to  be  hi  Scotland  while  the 
Rambler  was  coming  out  in  single  papers  at  London. 
With  a  laudable  zeal  at  once  for  the  improvement  of 
his  countrymen,  and  the  reputation  of  his  friend,  he 
suggested  and  took  the  charge  of  an  edition  of  those 
Essays  at  Edinburgh,  which  followed  progressively  the 
London  publication.* 

The  following  letter  written  at  this  time,  though  not 
dated,  will  show  how  much  pleased  Johnson  was  with 
this  publication,  and  what  kindness  and  regard  he  had 
for  Mr.  Elphinston. 


"dear  sir,  [No  date.'] 

"  I  cannot  but  confess  the  failures  of  my  corres- 
pondence, but  hope  the  same  regard  which  you  express 

•»  It  was  executed  in  the  printing-office  of  Sands,  Murray,  and  Cochranj  with  un- 
t'ommon  elegance,  upon  writing-  paper,  of  a  duodecimo  size,  and  with  the  greatest 
correctness  :  and  Mr.  Elphinston  enriched  it  with  translations  of  the  mottos.  When 
completed,  it  made  eight  handsome  volumes.  It  is,  unquestionably,  the  most  accu- 
rate and  beautiful  edition  of  this  work  ;  and  there  being  bnr  3  small  impres^on  1 
is  now  becoaie  scarce,  and  sells  at  a  verv  Uijjb.  price. 

168  THE    LIFE    OF 

1750.  forme  on  every  other  occasion,  will  incline  you  toioi- 

iEt-T  &*ve  me*  ^  am  °^ten'  very  °ften?  M  5  ancl»  when  I  am 
4], 'well,  am  obliged  to  work:  and,  indeed,  have  never 
much  used  myself  to  punctuality.  You  are,  however, 
not  to  make  unkind  inferences,  when  I  forbear  to  reply 
to  your  kindness  ;  for  be  assured,  I  never  receive  a  let- 
ter from  you  without  great  pleasure,  and  a  very  warm 
sense  of  your  generosity  and  friendship,  which  1  hearti- 
ly blame  myself  for  not  cultivating  with  more  care.  In 
this,  as  in  many  other  cases,  I  go  wrong,  in  opposition 
to  conviction  ;  for  I  think  scarce  any  temporal  good 
equally  to  be  desired  with  the  regard  and  familiarity  of 
worthy  men.  I  hope  we  shall  be  some  time  nearer  to 
each  other,  and  have  a  more  ready  way  of  pouring  out 
our  hearts. 

"  I  am  glad  that  you  still  find  encouragement  to  pro- 
ceed in  your  publication,  and  shall  beg  the  favour  of  six 
more  volumes  to  add  to  my  former  six,  when  you  can, 
with  any  convenience,  send  them  me.  Please  to  pre- 
sent a  set,  in  my  name,  to  Mr.  Ruddiman.,*  of  whom,  I 
hjar,  that  his  learning  is  not  his  highest  excellence.  I 
nave  transcribed  the  mottos,  and  returned  them,  I  hope 
not  too  late,  of  \vhich  I  think  many  very  happily  per 
formed.  Mr.  Cave  has  put  the  last  in  the  magazine 
in  wbioh  I  think  he  did  well.  1  beg  of  you  to  write 
soon,  and  to  write  often,  and  to  write  long  letters, 
which  1  hope  in  time  to  repay  you  ;  but  you  must  be  a 
patient  creditor.  1  have,  however,  this  of  gratitude, 
tnat  I  think  of  you  with  regard,  when  I  do  not,  per- 
haps, give  the  proofs  which  1  ought,  of  being,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obliged  and 

"  Most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

6  Mr.  Thomas  Ruddiman,  the  learned  grammarian  of  Scotland,  well  known  for 
his  various  excellent  works,  and  for  his  accurate  editions  of  several  authours.  He 
was  also  a  man  of  a  most  worthy  private  character.  His  zeal  for  the  Royal  House 
of  Stuart  did  not  render  him  less  estimable  in  Dr.  Johnson's  eye. 

6  [If  the  Magazine  here  referred  to  be  that  for  October  1752,  (See  Gent.  Mag. 
vol.  22,  p.  468,)  then  this  letter  belongs  to  a  later  period.  If  it  relates  to  the  Mag- 
azine for  Sept.  1750,  (See  Gent.  Mag.  vol.  20.  p.  406,)  then  it  may  be  ascribed  to 
the  month  of  October  in  that  vear,  and  should  have  followed  the  subsequent  letter. 



OR.    JOHNSON.  169 

This  year  he  wrote  to  the  same  gentleman  another  1750, 
tetter  upon  a  mournful  occasion.  jEtat" 




dear  SIR,  "  September  25,  17^0. 

"  You  have,  as  1  find  by  every  kind  of  evidence, 
lost  an  excellent  mother  ;  and  1  hope  you  will  not 
think  me  incapable  of  partaking-  of  your  grief.  I  have 
a  mother,  now  eighty-two  years  of  age,  whom,  there- 
fore, 1  must  soon  lose,  unless  it  please  God  that  she 
should  rather  mourn  for  me.  I  read  the  letters  in 
which  vou  relate  your  mother's  death  to  Mrs.  Strahan, 
and  1  think  L  do  myself  honour,  when  1  tell  you  that  I 
read  them  with  tears  ;  but  tears  are  neither  to  you  nor 
to  me  of  any  further  use,  when  once  the  tribute  of  na- 
ture has  been  paid.  The  business  of  life  summons  us 
away  from  useless  grief,  and  calls  us  to  the  exercise  of 
those  virtues  of  which  we  are  lamenting  our  depriva- 
tion. The  greatest  benefit  which  one  friend  can  con- 
fer upon  another,  is  to  guard,  and  excite,  and  elevate, 
his  virtues.  This  your  mother  will  still  perform,  if  y  a 
diligently  preserve  the  memory  of  her  life,  and  of  her 
death  :  a  life,  so  far  as  1  can  learn,  useful,  wise,  and  in- 
nocent ;  and  a  death  resigned,  peaceful,  and  holy.  I 
cannot  forbear  to  mention,  that  neither  reason  nor  rev- 
elation denies  you  to  hope,  that  you  may  increase  her 
happiness  by  obeying  her  precepts  ;  and  that  she  may, 
in  her  present  state,  look  with  pleasure  upon  every  act 
of  virtue  to  which  her   instructions  or  example   have 

contributed.     Whether  this  be  more  than  a  pleasing 

1  .  .   .  .  .       .    r  ° 

dream,  or  a  just  opinion  ot  separate  spirits,  is,  indeed, 

of  no  great  importance  to  us,  when  we  consider  our- 
selves as  acting  under  the  eve  of  God  :  yet,  surelv, 
there  is  something  pleasing  in  the  belief,  that  our  sepa- 
ration from  those  whom  we  love  is  merely  corporeal  ; 
and  it  maybe  a  great  incitement  to  virtuous  friendship, 
if  it  can  be  made  probable,  that  that  union  that  has  re- 
ceived the  divine  approbation  shall  continue  to  eternity. 
■•  There  is  one  expedient  by  which  you  may,  in  some 
degree,  continue  her  presence.  If  you  writedown  mi- 
nutely what  you  remember  of  her  from  your  earliest 

VOL.  I. 

170  THE    LIFE    OF 

I750.  years,  you  will  read  it  with  great  pleasure,  and  receive 
/£^  from  it  many  hints  of  soothing  recollection,  when  time 
41.  '  shall  remove  her  yet  farther  from  you,  and  your  grief 
shall  be  matured  to  veneration.  To  this,  however  pain- 
ful for  the  present,  1  cannot  but  advise  you,  as  to  a 
source  of  comfort  and  satisfaction  in  the  time  to  come  ; 
for  all  comfort  and  all  satisfaction  is  sincerely  wished 
you  by,  dear  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obliged,  most  obedient, 

"  And  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

The  Rambler  has  increased  in  fame  as  in  age.  Soon 
after  its  first  folio  edition  was  concluded,  it  was  publish- 
ed in  six  duodecimo  volumes;7  and  its  authour  lived 
to  see  ten  numerous  editions  of  it  in  London,  beside 
those  of  Ireland  and  Scotland. 

i  profess  myself  to  have  ever  entertained  a  profound 
veneration    for  the  astonishing  force    and   vivacity  of 
mind,  which  the  Rambler  exhibits.     That  Johnson  had 
penetration  enough  to  see,  and  seeing  would  not  dis- 
guise the  general   misery  of  man  in  this  state  of  being, 
may  have  given  rise  to  the  superficial  notion  of  his  be- 
ing too  stern  a  philosopher.     But  men  of  reflection  will 
be  sensible  that  he  has  given  a  true  representation  of 
human  existence,  and  that  he  has,  at  the  same  time, 
with  a  generous  benevolence  displayed  every  consola- 
tion which  our  state  affords  us  ;  not  only  those  arising 
from  the  hopes  of  futurity,  but  such  as  may  be  attained 
in  the  immediate  progress  through    lite.     He  has  not 
depressed  the  soul  to   despondency   and   indifference. 
He  has  every  where  inculcated  study,  labour,  and  ex- 

"  [This  Js  not  quite  accurate.  In  the  Gent.  Mag.  for  Nov.  1751,  while  the  work 
was  yet  proceeding,  is  an  advertisement,  announcing  that  four  volumes  of  the  Ram- 
bler would  speedily  be  published  ;  and  it  is  believed  that  they  were  published  in  the 
next  month.  The  fifth  and  sixth  volumes,  with  tables  of  contents  and  translations 
ofthemottos,  were  published  in  July  1752,  by  Payne,  (the  original  publisher,) 
three  months  after  the  close  of  the  work. 

When  the  Rambler  was  collected  into  volumes,  Johnson  revised  and  corrected  it 
;hroughout.  The  original  octavo  edition  not  having  fallen  into  Mr.  Boswell's  hands, 
he  was  not  aware  of  this  circumstance,  which  has  lately  been  pointed  out  by 
Mr.  Alexander  Chalmers  in  a  new  edition  of  these  and  various  other  periodica' 
Essays,  under  the  title  of  the  British  Essayists.     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  171 

ertion.     Nay,  he  has  shewn,  in  a  very  odious  light,  a  1750. 
man  whose  practice  is  to  go  about  darkening  the  views  ^^ 
of  others,  by  perpetual  complaints  of  evil,  and  awaken-   41. 
ing  those  considerations  of  danger  and  distress,  which 
are,  for   ihe   most  part,  lulled  into  a   quiet    oblivion. 
This  he  has  done  very  strongly  in  his  character  of  Sus- 
pirius,8  from  which  Goldsmith  took  that  of  Croaker,  in 
his  comedy  of  "The   Good-natured  .Man."  as  Johnson 
told  me  he  acknowledged  to  him,  and  which  is,  indeed. 
very  obvious. 

To  point  out  the  numerous  subjects  which  the  Ram- 
bler treats,  with  a  dignity  and  perspicuity  which  are 
there  united  in  a  manner  winch  we  shall  in  vain  look 
for  any  where  else,  would  take  up  too  large  a  portion  of 
my  book,  and  would,  1  trust,  be  superfluous,  consider- 
ing how  universally  those  volumes  are  now  disseminat- 
ed. Even  the  most  condensed  and  brilliant  sentences 
which  they  contain,  and  which  have  very  properly  been 
selected  underthe  name  of  "  Be  a  rxiES,"9  are  of  consid- 
erable bulk.  But  I  may  shortly  observe,  that  the  Ram- 
bier  furnishes  such  an  assemblage  of  discourses  on 
practical  religion  and  moral  duty,  of  critical  investiga- 
tions, and  allegorical  and  oriental  tales,  that  no  mind 
can  be  thought  very  deficient  that  has,  by  constant  stu- 
dy and  meditation,  assimilated  to  itself  all  that  may  be 
found  there.  No.  7,  written  in  Passion-week  on  ab- 
straction and  self-examination,  and  No.  110,  on  peni- 
tence and  the  placability  of  the  Divine  Nature,  cannot 
be  too  often  read.  No.  54,  on  the  effect  which  the 
death  of  a  friend  should  have  upon  us,  though  rather 
too  dispiriting,  may  be  occasionally  very  medicinal  to  the 
mind.  Every  one  must  suppose  the  writer  to  have 
been  deeply  impressed  by  a  real  scene  ;  but  he  told  me 
that  was  not  the  case  ;  which  shews  how  well  his  fan- 
cy could  conduct  him  to   the  "  house  of  mourning." 

8  No.   55. 

v  Dr.  Johnson  was  gratified  by  seeing  this  selection,  and  wrote  to  Mr.  Kearslcy, 
bookseller  in  Fleet-street,  the  following  note  : 

"  Mr.  Johnson  sends  compliments  to  Mr.  Kearsley,and  bes^s  the  favour  of  seeing 
him  as  soon  as  he  can.     Air.  Kearsley  is  desired  to  bring  with  him  the  last  edition 
of  what  he  has  honoured  with  the  name  of  Beauties." 
"  May  20,  1782." 

172  THE    LIFE    OF 

1750.  Some  of  these  more  solemn  papers,  I  doubt  not,  partic- 
2^  ularly  attracted  the  notice  of  Dr.  Young,  the  authour 
41.  of"  The  Night  Thoughts,"  of  whom  my  estimation  is 
such,  as  to  reckon  his  applause  an  honour  even  to  John- 
son. I  have  seen  volumes  of  Dr.  Young's  copy  of 
the  Rambler,  in  which  he  has  marked  the  passages 
which  he  thought  particularly  excellent,  by  folding- 
down  a  corner  of  the  page  ;  and  such  as  he  rated  in  a 
super-eminent  degree,  are  marked  by  double  folds.  I 
am  sorry  that  some  of  the  volumes  are  lost.  Johnson 
was  pleased  when  told  of  the  minute  attention  with 
which  \oung  had  signified  his  approbation  of  his  Es- 

I  will  venture  to  say,  that  in  no  writings  whatever 
can  be  found  more  bark  and  steel  for  the  mind,  if  I  may 
use  the  expression  ;  more  that  can  brace  and  invigorate 
every  manly  and  noble  sentiment.  No.  32  on  pa- 
tience, even  under  extreme  misery,  is  wonderfully 
lofty,  and  as  much  above  the  rant  of  stoicism,  as  the 
Sun  of  Revelation  is  brighter  than  the  twilight  of  Pa- 
gan philosophy.  I  never  read  the  following  sentence 
without  feeling  my  frame  thrill  :  "  1  think  there  is 
some  reason  for  questioning  whether  the  body  and 
mind  are  not  so  proportioned,  that  the  one  can  bear  all 
which  can  be  inflicted  on  the  other ;  whether  virtue 
cannot  stand  its  ground  as  long  as  life,  and  whether  a 
soul  well  principled  will  not  be  sooner  separated  than 

Though  instruction  be  the  predominant  purpose  of 
the  Rambler,  yet  it  is  enlivened  with  a  considerable 
portion  of  amusement.  Nothing  can  be  more  errone- 
nous  than  the  notion  which  some  persons  have  enter- 
tained, that  Johnson  was  then  a  retired  authour,  igno- 
rant of  the  world  ;  and,  of  consequence,  that  he  wrote 
only  from  his  imagination,  when  he  described  charac- 
ters and  manners.  He  said  to  me,  that  before  he  wrote 
that  work,  he  had  been  "  running  about  the  world,"  as 
he  expressed  it,  more  than  almost  any  body  ;  and  I 
have  heard  him  relate,  with  much  satisfaction,  that 
several  of  the  characters  in  the  Rambler  were  drawn 
so  naturally,  that  when  it  first  circulated  in  numbers,  a 

DR.    JOHNSON.  17^ 

club  in  one  of  the  towns  in  Essex  imagined  themselves  1750. 
to  be  severally  exhibited  in  it,  and  were  much  incensed  J^^ 
against  a  person  who,  they  suspected,  had  thus  made  41. 
them  objects  of  publick  notice  ;  nor  were  they  quieted 
till  authentick  assurance  was  given  them,  that  the 
Rambler  was  written  by  a  person  who  had  never  heard 
of  any  one  of  them.  Some  of  the  characters  are  be- 
lieved to  have  been  actually  drawn  from  the  life,  par- 
ticularly that  of  Prospero  from  Garrick, '  who  never  en- 
tirely forgave  its  pointed  satire.  For  instances  of  fer- 
tility of  fancy,  and  accurate  description  of  real  life,  I 
appeal  to  No.  19,  a  man  who  wanders  from  one  pro- 
fession to  another,  with  most  plausible  reasons  for  every 
change  :  No.  34,  female  fastidiousness  and  timorous  re- 
finement :  No*  82,  a  Virtuoso  who  has  collected  curi- 
osities :  No.  88,  petty  modes  of  entertaining  a  compa- 
ny, and  conciliating  kindness :  No.  182,  fortune-hunt- 
ing :  No.  194: — 19 j,  a  tutor's  account  of  the  follies  of 
his  pupil:  No.  197 — 198,  legacy-hunting:  He  has 
given  a  specimen  of  his  nice  observation  of  the  mere 
external  appearances  of  life,  in  the  following  passage  in 
No.  179,  against  affectation,  that  frequent  and  most 
disgusting  quality  :  "  He  that  stands  to  contemplate 
the  crouds  that  fill  the  streets  of  a  populous  city,  will 
see  many  passengers,  whose  air  and  motions  it  will  be 
difficult  to  behold  without  contempt  and  laughter  ;  but 
if  he  examine  what  are  the  appearances  that  thus  pow- 
erfully excite  his  risibility,  he  will  find  among  them 
neither  poverty  nor  disease,  nor  any  involuntary  or 
painful  defect.  The  disposition  to  derision  and  insult, 
is  awakened  by  the  softness  of  foppery,  the  swell  of  in- 
solence, the  liveliness  of  levity,  or  the  solemnity  of 
grandeur  ;  by  the  sprightly  trip,  the  stately  stalk,  the 
formal  strut,  and  the  lofty  mien  ;  by  gestures  intended 

1  [That  of  Gelidus  in  No.  24,  from  Professor  Colson,  (see  p.  84  of  this  vol.) 
and  that  of  Euphues  in  the  same  paper,  which,  with  many  others,  was  doubtless 
drawn  from  the  life.  Eupiibes,  I  once  thought,  might  have  been  intended  to  rep- 
resent either  Lord  Chesterfield  or  Soame  Jenyns  ;  but  Mr.  Bindley,  with  more  prob- 
ability, thinks,  that  George  Bubb  Dodington,  who  was  remarkable  for  the  home- 
liness of  his  person,  and  the  finery  of  his  dress,  was  the  person  meant  under  thai 
.  haracter.     M.] 

174  THE    LIFE    OF 

1750.  to  catch  the  eye,  and  by  looks  elaborately  formed  as 

iEtaT  evidences  of  importance." 

41.  Every  page  of  the  Rambler  shews  a  mind  teeming 
with  classical  allusion  and  poetical  imagery:  illustra- 
tions from  other  writers  are,  upon  all  occasions,  so 
ready,  and  mingle  so  easily  in  his  periods,  that  the 
whole  appears  of  one  uniform  vivid  texture. 

The  style  of  this  work  has  been  censured  by  some 
shallow  criticks  as  involved  and  turgid,  and  abounding 
with  antiquated  and  hard  words.  So  ill-founded  is  the 
first  part  of  this  objection,  that  I  will  challenge  all  who 
may  honour  this  book  with  a  perusal,  to  point  out  any 
English  writer  whose  language  conveys  his  meaning 
with  equal  force  and  perspicuity.  It  must,  indeed,  be 
allowed,  that  the  structure  of  his  sentences  is  expand- 
ed, and  often  has  somewhat  of  the  inversion  of  Latin  ; 
and  that  he  delighted  to  express  familiar  thoughts  in 
philosophical  language  ;  being  in  this  the  reverse  of 
Socrates,  who,  it  is  said,  reduced  philosophy  to  the  sim- 
plicity of  common  life.  But  let  us  attend  to  what  he 
himself  says  in  his  concluding  paper :  "  When  com- 
mon words  were  less  pleasing  to  the  ear,  or  less  distinct 
in  their  signification,  I  have  familiarised  the  terms  oi 
philosophy,  by  applying  them  to  popular  ideas."2  And, 
as  to  the  second  part  of  this  objection,  upon  a  late 
careful  revision  of  the  work,  I  can  with  confidence  say, 
that  it  is  amazing  how  few  of  those  words,  for  which 
it  has  been  unjustly  characterised,  are  actually  to  be 
found  in  it ;  1  air!  sure,  not  the  proportion  of  one  to 
each  paper.  This  idle  charge  has  been  echoed  from 
one  babbler  to  another,  who  have  confounded  John- 
son's Essays  with  Johnson's  Dictionary  ;  and  because 
he  thought  it  right  in  a  Lexicon  of  our  language  to 
collect  many  words  which  had  fallen  into  disuse,  but 
were  supported  by  great  authorities,  it  has  been  im- 
agined that  all  of  these  have  been  interwoven  into  his 
own  compositions.  That  some  of  them  have  been 
adopted  by  him  unnecessarily,  may,  perhaps,  be  allow- 
ed ;  but,  in  general  they  are  evidently  an   advantage, 

2  Yet  his  style  did  not  escape  the  harmless  shafts  of  pleasant  humour ;  for  the  in- 
genious Bonnell  Thornton  published  a  mock  Rambler  in  the  Drury-lane  Journal. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  17 5 

for  without  them  his  stately  ideas  would  he  confined  i/50. 
and   cramped.     "He  that  thinks  with    more    extent  £^ 
than  another,  will  want  words  of  larger  meaning."3     1  le   41. 
once  told  me,  that  he  had  formed  his  style  upon   that 
of  Sir  William  Temple,  and  upon  Chambers's  Proposal 
for  his    Dictionary.4-      lie   certainly  was    mistaken  ;  or 
if  he  imagined  at  first  that  he  was  imitating  Temple,  he 
was  very  unsuccessful  ;5    for  nothing  can   be  more  un- 
like than  the  simplicity  of  Temple,  and  the  richness  of 
Johnson.     Their  styles  dirler  as  plain  cloth   and   bro- 
cade.     Temple,  indeed,  seems  equally  erroneous  in 
supposing  that  he  himself  had  formed  his  style  upon 
Sandys's  View  of  the  btate  of  Religion  in  the  VVrestern 
parts  of  the  World. 

The  style  of  Johnson  was,  undoubtedly,  much  form- 
ed  upon  that  of  the  great  writers  in  the  last  century, 
Hooker,  Bacon,  Sanderson,  Hake  well,  and  others  ; 
those  "  Giants/'  as  they  were  well  characterised  by  a 
great  Personage,  whose  authority,  were  1  to  name 
him,  would  stamp  a  reverence  on  the  opinion. 

We  may,  with  the  utmost  propriety,  apply  to  his 
learned  style  that  passage  of  Horace,  a  part  of  which 
he  has  taken  as  the  motto  to  his  Dictionary  ; 

:i  Cum  tabulis  animum  censoris  sumct  honesti  ; 
"  Audebit  quoscumque  pariun  splendoris  kabebunt 
u  lit  sine  pondere  erunt,  et  honore  indigna  J*erem 'urr 
"  Verba  movere  loco,  quamvis  invito,  recedant, 
"  Et  versentur  adhuc  intra  penetralia  Vestce. 
••  Obscurata  din  populo  bonus  cruet,  atque 

-  Idler,  No.  70. 

*  [The  Paper  here  alluded  to,  was,  I  believe,  Chambers's  Proposal  for  a  second 
and  improved  ed'tion  of  his  Dictionary,  which,  I  think,  appeared  in  1738.  This 
Proposal  was  probably  in  circulation  in  1737,  when  Johnson  first  came  to  Lon- 
don.    M.] 

6  [The  author  appears  to  me  to  have  misunderstood  Johnson  in  this  instance, 
He  did  not,  I  conceive,  mean  to  say,  that,  when  he  first  began  to  write,  he  madr 
Sir  William  Temple  his  model,  with  a  view  to  form  a  style  that  should  resemble 
his  in  all  its  parts ;  but  that  he  formed  his  style  on  that  of  Temple  and  others  ;  by 
taking  from  each  those  characteristic  excellencies  which  were  most  worthy  of  im- 
itation.— See  this  matter  further  explained  in  vol.  ii.  under  April  9,  1778  ;  wherr. 
ui  a  conversational  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds's,  Johnson  himself  mentions  the  particu- 
lar improvements  which  Temple  made  in  the  i  style.  These,  doubtless  were 
the  object*  of  his  imitation,  so  fa-  «  that  write'  model.     M."1 

176  THE    LIFE    OF 

}U*1'      "  Proferet  in  lucem  speciosa  vocabula  rerum, 

'*  Quae  priscis  me  mo  rat  a  Catonibus  atone  Cethegis, 
"  Nunc  situs  in  for  mis  pr  emit  et  desert  a  vet  us  t  as  : 
"  Adsciscet  nova,  quce  genitor  produxerit  usus  : 
'  Vchemens,  et  Uquidus,  puroque  simillimus  amni, 
"  Fundet  opes  Latiumque  beabit  divite  lingua"6 

To  so  great  a  master  of  thinking,  to  one  of  such  vast 
and  various  knowledge  as  Johnson,  might  have  been 
allowed  a  liberal  indulgence  of  that  licence  which 
Horace  claims  in  another  place  : 

■Si  forte  necesse  est 

'  Indiciis  monstrare  recentibus  abdita  rerum, 
'  Fingere  cinctutzs  non  exaudita  Cethegis 
'  Continget,  dabiturque  ticentia  sumpta  pudenfer  : 
'  Et  nova  fi eta  que  nuper  habebunt  verba  /idem,  si 
'  Grcecojbnte  cadaut,  parch  detorta.      Quid  autem 
'  Ccecilio  Plautoque  dabit  Romanics,  ademption 
'•  Virgilio  Varioque!  Ego  cur,  acquirere pauca 
'  Si  possum,  invideor ;  emu  lingua  Cat  outset  Enni 
'  Sermonem  patrium  dititverif,  et  nova  rerum 
'  Nomina  protulerit !  Licuit,  semperque  Ucebit 
1  Signatuni  prcesente  not  a  producere  nomen."7 

Yet  Johnson  assured  me,  that  he  had  not  taken  up- 
on him  to  add  more  than  four  or  five  words  to  the 
English  language,  of  his  own  formation  ;  and  he  was 
very  much  offended  at  the  general  licence  by  no  means 
"  modestly  taken"  in  his  time,  not  only  to  coin  new- 
words,  but  to  use  many  words  in  senses  quite  different 
from  their  established  meaning,  and  those  frequently 
verv  fantastical. 

Sir  Thomas  Brown,  whose  Life  Johnson  wrote,  was 
remarkably  fond  of  Anglo-Latin  diction  ;  and  to  his 
example  we  are  to  ascribe  .Johnson's  sometimes  indulg- 
ing himself  in  this  kind  of  phraseology.8     Johnson's 

*  Horat.  Epist.  Lib.  ii.  Epist.  ii. 

"  Horat.  De  Arte  Poetica. 

3  The  observation  of  his  having  imitated  Sir  Thomas  Brown  has  been  made  by- 
many  people  ;  and  lately  it  has  been  insisted  on,  and  illustrated  by  a  variety  of 

DR.    JOHNSON'.  177 

comprehension  of  mind  was  the  mould  for  his  Ian-  *750. 
guage.     Had  his  conceptions   been   narrower,  his  ex-  feQf 
pression  would  have  been  easier.     His  sentences  have   41. 
a  dignified  march  ;  and,  it  is  certain,  that  his  example 
has  given  a  general   elevation   to  the  language  of  his 
country,  for  many  of  our  best  writers  have  approached 
very  near  to  him  ;  and,  from  the  influence  which  he 
has   had   upon   our  composition,   scarcely  any  thing  is 
written  now  that  is  not  better  expressed  than  was  usual 
before  he  appeared  to  lead  the  national  taste. 

This  circumstance,  the  truth  of  which  must  strike 
every  critical  reader,  has  been  so  happily  enforced  by 
Mr.  Courtenay,  in  his  "  Moral  and  Literary  Character 
of  Dr.  Johnson,"  that  I  cannot  prevail  on  myself  to 
withhold  it,  notwithstanding  his,  perhaps,  too  great 
partiality  for  one  of  his  friends  : 

"  By  nature's  gifts  ordain'd  mankind  to  rule, 
"  He,  like  a  Titian,  form'd  his  brilliant  school ; 
"  And  taught  congenial  spirits  to  excel, 
"  While  from  his  lips  impressive  wisdom  fell. 
"  Our  boasted  Goldsmith  felt  the  sovereign  sway ; 
"  From  him  deriv'd  the  sweet,  yet  nervous  lav. 
"  To  Fame's  proud  cliff  he  bade  our  Raffaelle  rise  : 
"  Hence  Reynolds'  pen  with  Reynolds'  pencil  vies. 
"  With  Johnson's  flame  melodious  Burney  glows, 
;'  While  the  grand  strain  in  smoother  cadence  flows* 
"  And  you,  Malone,  to  critick  learning  dear, 
"  Correct  and  elegant,  refin'd  though  clear, 
"  By  studying  him,  acquir'd  that  classick  taste, 
"  Which  high  in  Shakspeare's  fane  thy  statue  p!ac'd> 
"  Near  Johnson  Steevens  stands,  on  scenick  ground, 
i:  Acute,  laborious,  fertile,  and  profound. 
'  Ingenious  Hawkesworth  to  this  school  we  owe3 
"  And  scarce  the  pupil  from  the  tutor  know. 
"  Flere  early  parts  accomplish'd  Jones  sublimes, 
"  And  science  blends  with  Asia's  lofty  rhymes  : 

quotations  from  Brown,  in  one  of  the  popular  Essays  written  by  the  Reverend 
Mr.  Knox,  master  of  Tunbridge-school,  whom  I  have  set  down  in  my  list  of  those 
who  have  sometimes  not  unsuccessfully  imitated  Dr.  Johnson's  style. 

vol.  i.  23 

i/fe  THE    LIFE    OF 

}1?Z',  "  Harmonious  Jones  !  who  in  his  splendid  strains 
"  Sings  Camdeo's  sports,  on  Agra's  flowery  plains, 
"  In  Hindu  fictions  while  we  fondly  trace 
"  Love  and  the  Muses,  deck'd  with  Attick  grace. 
"  Amid  these  nanies  can  Boswell  be  forgot, 
"  Scarce  by  North  Britons  now  esteem'd  a  Scot?"' 
"  Who  to  the  sage  devoted  from  his  youth, 
"  Imbib'd  from  him  the  sacred  love  of  truth  ; 
"  The  keen  research,  the  exercise  of  mind, 
"  And  that  best  art,  the  art  to  know  mankind. — 
"  Nor  was  his  energy  confin'd  alone 
"  To  friends  around  his  philosophick  throne  ; 
"  Its  influence  wide  improved  our  lettered  isle, 
4:  And  lucid  vigour  marked  the  general  stifle ; 
"  As  Nile's  proud  waves,  swoln  from  their  oozy  bed, 
"  First  o'er  the  neighbouring  meads  majestick  spread  ; 
"  Till  gathering  force,  they  more  and  more  expand, 
"  And  with  new  virtue  fertilise  the  land." 

Johnson's  language,  however,  must  be  allowed  to  be 
too  masculine  for  the  delicate  gentleness  of  female 
writing.  His  ladies,  therefore,  seem  strangely  formal, 
even  to  ridicule  ;  and  are  well  denominated  by  the 
nanies  which  he  has  gi  en  them,  as  Misella,  Zozima, 
Properantia,  Rhodoclia. 

It  has  of  late  been  the  fashion  to  compare  the  style 
of  Addison  and  Johnson,  and  to  depreciate,  [  think, 
very  unjustly,  the  style  of  Addison  as  nerveless  and 
feeble,  because  it  has  not  the  strength  and  energy  of 
that  of  Johnson.  Their  prose  may  be  balanced  like  the 
poetry  of  Dryden  and  Pope.  Both  are  excellent, 
though  in  different  ways.  Addison  writes  with  the 
ease  of  a  gentleman.  His  readers  fancy  that  a  wise 
and  accomplished  companion   is   talking  to  them  ;  so 

9  The  following  observation  in  Mr.  Boswell's  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides  may 
.sufficiently  account  for  that  Gentleman's  being  "now  scarcely  esteemed  a  Scot"  by 
many  of  his  countrymen  :  "  If  he  [Dr  Johnson]  was  particularly  prejudiced  against 
the  Scots,  it  was  because  they  were  more  in  his  way  ;  because  he  thought  their 
success  in  England  rather  exceeded  the  due  proportion  of  their  real  merit ;  and  be- 
cause he  could  not  but  see  in  them  that  nationality  which,  I  believe,  no  liberal- 
minded  Scotchman  will  deny."  Mr.  Boswell,  indeed,  is  so  free  from  national  prej- 
udices, that  he  might  with  equal  propriety  have  been  described  as — 
"  Scarce  by  South  Britons  now  esteem'd  a  Scot." 


DR.    JOHNSON.  17° 

that  he  insinuates  his  sentiments  and  taste  into  their  i75o. 
minds  by  an  imperceptible  influence.     Johnson  writes  j£tAtt 
like  a  teacher.     He  dictates  to  his  readers  as  if  from  an    41. 
academical  chair.     They  attend  with  awe  and  admira- 
tion ;  and  his  precepts  are  impressed  upon  them  by  his 
commanding'  eloquence.     Addison's  style,   like  a  light 
wine,  pleases   every   body   from  the   first.     Johnson's, 
like  a  liquor  of  more  body,  seems  too  strong-  at  first, 
but,  by  degrees,  is  highly  relished  ;  and  such   is  the 
melody  of  Ins  periods,  so  much  do  they  captivate  the 
ear,  and  seize  upon  the  attention,  that  there  is  scarcely 
any  writer,  however  inconsiderable,  who  does  not  aim, 
in  some  degree,  at  the  same  species  of  excellence.     But 
let  us  not  ungratefully  undervalue  that  beautiful  style, 
which  has  pleasingly  conveyed  to  us  much  instruction 
and  entertainment.     Though  comparatively  weak,   op- 
posed to  Johnson's  Herculean  vigour,  let  us  not  call  it 
positively  feeble.     Let   us  remember  the  character  of 
his  style,  as  given  by  Johnson   himself:  "  What  he  at- 
tempted, he  performed  ;  he  is  never  feeble,  and  he  did 
not  wish  to  be  energetick  ;  he  is  never  rapid,  and  he 
never  stagnates.     His  sentences  have  neither  studied 
amplitude,  nor  affected  brevity  :  his  periods,  though  not 
diligently  rounded,  are   voluble  and  easy.1      Whoever 
wishes  to  attain  an  English  style,  familiar  but  not  coarse, 
and   elegant   but   not  ostentatious,   must  give  his  days 
and  nights  to  the  volumes  of  Addison."* 

Though  the  Rambler  was  not  concluded  till  the  vear 
17«52,  1  shall,  under  this  year,  say  all  that  I  have  toob- 

1  [When  Johnson  shewed  me  a  proof-sheet  of  the  character  of  Addison,  in  which 
he  so  highly  extols  his  style,  I  could  not  help  observing,  that  it  had  not  been  his 
own  model,  as  no  two  styles  could  differ  more  from  each  other. — "  Sir,  Addison 
had  his  style,  and  I  have  mine." — When  I  ventured  to  ask  him,  whether  the  differ- 
ence did  not  consist  in  this,  that  Addison's  style  was  full  of  idioms,  colloquial  phra- 
ses, and  proverbs  ;  and  his  own  more  strictly  grammatical,  and  free  from  such 
phraseology  and  modes  of  speech  as  can  never  be  literally  translated  or  understood 
by  foreigners  ;  he  allowed  the  discrimination  to  be  just. — Let  any  one  who  doubts 
it,  try  to  translate  one  of  Addison's  Spectators  into  Latin,  French,  or  Italian  ;  and 
though  so  easy,  familar,  and  elegant,  to  an  Englishman,  as  to  give  the  intellect  no 
trouble  ;  yet  he  would  find  the  transfusion  into  another  language  extremely  dif- 
ficult, if  not  impossible.  But  a  Rambler,  Adventurer,  or  Idler,  of  Johnson,  would 
fall  into  any  classical  or  European  language,  as  easily  as  if  it  had  been  originally 
conceived  in  it.     B.] 

1  1  shall  probably,  in  another  work,  maintain  the  merit  of  Addison's  poetry, 
which  has  been  very  unjustly  depreciated. 

180  IHE    LIFE    OF 

1750.  serve  upon  it.  Some  of  the  translations  of  the  mottos 
)£^  by  himself,  are  admirably  done.  He  acknowledges  to 
41.  "  have  received  "  elegant  translations"  of  many  of  them 
from  Mr.  James  Elphinston  ;  and  some  are  very  hap- 
pily translated  by  a  Mr.  F.  Lewis,  of  whom  1  never 
heard  more,  except  that  Johnson  thus  described  him 
to  Mr.  Malone :  "Sir,  he  lived  in  London,  and  hung 
loose  upon  society."3  The  concluding  paper  of  his 
Rambler  is  at  once  dignified  and  pathetick.  I  cannot, 
however,  but  wish,  that  he  had  not  ended  it  with  an 
unnecessary  Greek  verse,  translated*  also  into  an  Eng- 
lish couplet.  It  is  too  much  like  the  conceit  of  those 
clramatick  poets,  who  used  to  conclude  each  act  with 
a  rhyme  ;  and  the  expression  in  the  first  line  of  his 
couplet,  "  Celestial  powers  "  though  proper  in  Pagan 
poetry,  is  ill  suited  to  Christianity,  with  "  a  conform- 
ity" to  which  he  consoles  himself.  How  much  better 
would  it  have  been,  to  have  ended  with  the  prose  sen- 
tence "  I  shall  never  envy  the  honours  which  wit  and 
learning  obtain  in  any  other  cause,  if  1  can  be  numbered 
among  the  writers  who  have  given  ardour  to  virtue,  and 
confidence  to  truth." 

His  friend,  Dr.  Birch,  being  now  engaged  in  prepar- 
ing an  edition  of  Ralegh's  smaller  pieces,  Dr.  Johnson 
wrote  the  following  letter  to  that  gentleman  : 

"    TO    DR.  BIRCH. 

"  sir,  "  Gotigh'Sguare,  May  12,  17-50, 

"  Knowing  that  you  are  now  preparing  to  fa- 
vour the  publick  with  a  new  edition  of  Ralegh's  mis- 
cellaneous pieces,  I  have  taken  the  liberty  to  send  you 
a  Manuscript,  which  fell  by  chance  within  my  notice. 
I  perceive  no  proofs  of  forgery  in  my  examination  of  it ; 

3  [In  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  for  October  1 752,  p.  468,  he  is  styled  u  the 
Rev.  Francis  Lewis,  of  Chiswick."  Lord  Macartney,  at  my  request,  made  some 
inquiry  concerning  him  at  that  place,  but  no  intelligence  was  obtained. 

The  translations  of  the  mottos  supplied  by  Mr.  Elphinston,  appeared  first  in  the 
Edinburgh  edition  of  the  Rambler,  and  in  some  instances  were  revised  and  im- 
proved, probably  by  Johnson,  before  they  were  inserted  in  the  London  octavo 
edition.  The  translations  of  the  mottos  affixed  to  the  first  thirty  numbers  of  the 
Rambler,  were  published,  from  the  Edinburgh  edition,  in  the  Gent.  Mag.  for 
September  1 750,  before  the  work  was  collected  into  volumes.     M.] 

*  [Not  in  the  original  editions  in  folio.    M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  181 

and  the  owner  tells  me,  that  as  he  has  heard,  the  hand-  1750. 
writing  is  Sir  Walter's.     It  you  should  find  reason  to  ^Etat! 
conclude  it  genuine,  it  will  be  a  kindness  to  the  owner,    41. 
a  blind  person,4  to  recommend  it  to  the  booksellers. 

I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

His  just  abhorrence  of  Milton's  political  notions  was 
ever  strong.  But  this  did  not  prevent  his  warm  admi- 
ration of  Milton's  great  poetical  merit,  to  which  he  has 
done  illustrious  justice,  beyond  all  who  have  written 
upon  the  subject.  And  this  year  he  not  only  wrote  a 
Prologue,  which  was  spoken  by  Mr.  Garrick  before  the 
acting  of  Comus  at  Drury-lane  theatre,  for  the  benefit 
of  Milton's  grand-daughter,  but  took  a  very  zealous  in- 
terest in  the  success  of  the  charity.  On  the  day  preced- 
ing the  performance,  he  published  the  following  letter 
in  the  "  General  Advertiser,"  addressed  to  the  printer 
of  that  paper  : 

"  SIR. 

"  That  a  certain  degree  of  reputation  is  acquired 
merely  by  approving  the  works  of  genius,  and  testify- 
ing a  rejrard  to  the  memorv  of  authours,  is  a  truth  too 
evident  to  be  denied  ;  and  therefore  to  ensure  a  partici- 
pation of  fame  with  a  celebrated  poet,  many,  who 
would,  perhaps,  have  contributed  to  starve  him  when 
alive,  have  heaped  expensive  pageants  upon  his  grave.* 
"  It  must,  indeed,  be  confessed,  that  this  method  of 
becoming  known  to  posterity  with  honour,  is  peculiar 
to  the  great,  or  at  least  to  the  wealthy  ;  but  an  oppor- 
tunity now  offers  for  almost  every  individual  to  secure 
the  praise  of  paying  a  just  regard  to  the  illustrious  dead, 
united  with  the  pleasure  of  doing  good  to  the  living. 
To  assist  industrious  indigence,  struggling  with  distress 
and  debilitated  by  age,  is  a  display  of  virtue,  and  an  ac- 
quisition of  happiness  and  honour. 

4  Mrs.  Williams  is  probably  the  person  meant. 
;  Alluding  probably  to  Mr.  Auditor  Benson.    See  the  Dunciad,  b.  iv.     M.T 

182  THE    LIFE    OF 

1751.  "  Whoever,  then,  would  be  thought  capable  of  pleas- 
^^  ure  in  reading  the  works  of  our  incomparable  Milton,  and 
42.  *  not  so  destitute  of  gratitude  as  to  refuse  to  lay  out  a 
trifle  in  rational  and  elegant  entertainment,  for  the  ben- 
efit of  his  living  remains,  for  the  exercise  of  their  own 
virtue,  the  increase  of  their  reputation,  and  the  pleas- 
ing consciousness  of  doing  good,  should  appear  at  Dru- 
ry-lane  theatre  to-morrow,  April  5,  when  Comus  will 
be  performed  for  the  benefit  of  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Foster, 
grand-daughter  to  the  authour,5  and  the  only  surviving 
branch  of  his  family. 

"  N.  B.  There  will  be  a  new  prologue  on  the  occa- 
sion, written  by  the  authour  of  Irene,  and  spoken  by 
Mr.  Garrick  ;  and,  by  particular  desire,  there  will  be 
added  to  the  Masque  a  dramatick  satire,  called  Lethe, 
in  which  Mr.  Garrick  will  perform." 

In  1731  we  are  to  consider  him  as  carrying  on  both 
his  Dictionary  and  Rambler.  But  he  also  wrote  "  The 
Life  of  Cheynel,"*  in  the  miscellany  called  "  The  Stu- 
dent;" and  the  Rev.  Dr.  Douglas  having  with  uncom- 
mon  acuteness  clearly  detected  a  gross  forgery  and  im- 
position upon  the  publick  by  William  Lauder,  a  Scotch 
schoolmaster,  who  had,  with  equal  impudence  and  in- 
genuity, represented  Milton  as  a  plagiary  from  certain 
modern  Latin  poets,  Johnson,  who  had  been  so  far  im- 
posed upon  as  to  furnish  a  Preface  and  Postscript  to  his 
work,  now  dictated  a  letter  for  Lauder,  addressed  to  Dr. 
Douglas,  acknowledging  his  fraud  in  terms  of  suitable 

This  extraordinary  attempt  of  Lauder  was  no  sudden 
effort.     He  had  brooded  over  it  for  many  years  :  and  to 

s  [Mrs.  Elizabeth  Foster  died  May  9,  1754.     A.  C] 

6  Lest  there  should  be  any  person,  at  any  future  period,  absurd  enough  to  sus- 
pect that  Johnson  was  a  partaker  in  Lauder's  fraud,  or  had  any  knowledge  of  it, 
when  he  assisted  him  with  his  masterly  pen,  it  is  proper  here  to  quote  the  words  of 
Dr.  Douglas,  now  Bishop  of  Salisbury,  at  the  time  when  he  detected  the  impo- 
sition. "  It  is  to  be  hoped,  nay  it  is  expected,  that  the  elegant  and  nervous  wri- 
ter, whose  judicious  sentiments  and  inimitable  style  point  out  the  authour  of  Lau- 
der's Preface  and  Postscript,  will  no  longer  allow  one  to  flume  himself •with  his 
feathers,  who  appeareth  so  little  to  deserve  assistance  :  an  assistance  which  I  am 
persuaded  would  never  have  been  communicated,  had  there  been  the  least  suspi- 
cion of  those  facts  which  I  have  been  the  instrument  of  conveying  to  the  world  in 
these  sheets."  Milton  no  plagiary,  2d  edit.  p.  78.  And  his  Lordship  has  been  pleas- 
ed now  to  authorise  me  to  say,  in  the  strongest  manner,  tliat  there  is  no  ground 

DR.    JOHNSON.  183 

this  hour  it  is  uncertain  what  his  principal  motive  was,  1751. 
unless  it  were  a  vain  notion  of  his  superiority,  in  being  j£^ 
able,  by  whatever  means,  to  deceive  mankind.  To  ef-  49. 
feet  this,  he  produced  certain  passages  from  Grotius, 
Masenius,  and  others,  which  had  a  faint  resemblance  to 
some  parts  of  the  "  Paradise  Lost."  In  these  he  inter- 
polated some  fragments  of  Hog's  Latin  translation  of 
that  poem,  alleging  that  the  mass  thus  fabricated  was 
the  archetype  from  which  Milton  copied.  These  fabri- 
cations he  published  from  time  to  time  in  the  Gentle- 
man's Magazine  ;  and,  exulting  in  his  fancied  success, 
he  in  l/oO  ventured  to  collect  them  into  a  pamphlet, 
entitled,  "  An  Essay  on  Milton's  Use  and  Imitation  of 
the  Moderns  in  his  Paradise  Lost."  To  this  pamphlet 
Johnson  wrote  a  Preface,  in  full  persuasion  of  Lauder's 
honesty,  and  a  Postscript  recommending,  in  the  most 
persuasive  terms,  a  subscription  for  the  relief  of  a  grand- 
daughter of  Milton,  of  whom  he  thus  speaks :  "  It  is 
yet  in  the  power  of  a  great  people  to  reward  the  poet 
whose  name  they  boast,  and  from  their  alliance  to 
wrhose  genius  they  claim  some  kind  of  superiority  to 
every  other  nation  of  the  earth  ;  that  poet,  whose 
works  may  possibly  be  read  when  every  other  monu- 
ment of  British  greatness  shall  be  obliterated  ;  to  re- 
ward him,  not  with  pictures  or  with  medals,  which,  if 
he  sees,  he  sees  with  contempt,  but  with  tokens  of 
gratitude,  which  he,  perhaps,  may  even  now  consider 
as  not  unworthy  the  regard  of  an  immortal  spirit." 
Surely  this  is  inconsistent  with  "  enmity  towards  Mil- 
ton," which  Sir  John  Hawkins  imputes  to  Johnson 
upon  this  occasion,  adding,  "  I  could  all  along  observe 
that  Johnson  seemed  to  approve  not  only  of  the  design, 
but  of  the  argument  ;  and  seemed  to  exult  in  a  persua- 
sion, that  the  reputation  of  Milton  was  likely  to  suffer 

whatever  for  any  unfavourable  reflection  against  Dr.  Johnson,  who  expressed  the 
strongest  indignation  against  Lauder. 

[Lauder  renewed  his  attempts  on  Milton's  character  in  1 754,  in  a  pamphlet  en- 
titled, "  The  Grand  Imposter  detected,  or  Milton  convicted  of  forgery  against  King 
Charles  I.  ;"  which  was  reviewed,  probably  by  Johnson,  in  the  Gent.  Mag.  1751, 
p.  97.     A.  C] 

[Lauder  afterward*  wem  to  Barbwlocs,  where  he  «Ked  Ten'  nr^erably  abotit  thf 
vear  177L     M.l 

184  THE    LIFE    OF 

1751.  by  this  discovery.  That  he  was  not  privy  to  the  im* 
JStaT  Posture,  i  am  well  persuaded  ;  that  he  wished  well  to 
42.  *  the  argument,  may  be  inferred  from  the  Preface,  which 
indubitably  was  written  by  Johnson."  Is  it  possible 
for  any  man  of  clear  judgement  to  suppose  that  Johnson, 
who  so  nobly  praised  the  poetical  excellence  of  Milton 
in  a  Postscript  to  this  very  *'  discovery,"  as  he  then 
supposed  it,  could,  at  the  same  time,  exult  in  a  per- 
suasion that  the  great  poet's  reputation  was  likely  to 
suffer  by  it  ?  This  is  an  inconsistency  of  which  John- 
son was  incapable  ;  nor  can  any  thing  more  be  fairly 
inferred  from  the  Preface,  than  that  Johnson,  who  was 
alike  distinguished  for  ardent  curiosity  and  love  of  truth, 
was  pleased  with  an  investigation  by  which  both  were 
gratified.  That  he  was  actuated  by  these  motives,  and 
certainly  by  no  unworthy  desire  to  depreciate  our  great 
epick  poet,  is  evident  from  his  own  words  ;  for,  after 
mentioning  the  general  zeal  of  men  of  genius  and  lite- 
rature, "  to  advance  the  honour,  and  distinguish  the 
beauties  of  Paradise  Lost,"  he  says,  "  Among  the  in- 
quiries to  which  this  ardour  of  criticism  has  naturally 
given  occasion,  none  is  more  obscure  in  itself,  or  more 
worthy  of  rational  curiosity,  than  a  retrospect  of  the 
progress  of  this  mighty  genius  in  the  construction  of 
his  work  ;  a  view  of  the  fabrick  gradually  rising,  per- 
haps, from  small  beginnings,  till  its  foundation  rests  in 
the  centre,  and  its  turrets  sparkle  in  the  skies  ;  to  trace 
back  the  structure  through  all  its  varieties,  to  the  sim- 
plicity of  its  first  plan  ;  to  find  what  was  first  projected, 
whence  the  scheme  was  taken,  how  it  was  improved, 
by  what  assistance  it  was  executed,  and  from  what 
stores  the  materials  were  collected  ;  whether  its  foun- 
der dug  them  from  the  quarries  of  Nature,  or  demol- 
ished other  buildings  to  embellish  his  own."7 — Is  this 
the  language  of  one  who  wished  to  blast  the  laurels  of 

Though  Johnson's  circumstances  were  at  this  time 
far  from  being  easy,  his  humane  and  charitable  dispo- 

7  ["  Proposals  [written  evidently  by  Johnson]  for  printing  the  Adamus  Exul  of 
Grotius,  with  a  translation  and  Notes  by  Wm.  Lauder,  A.  M."  Gent.  Mag.  1747, 
voL  17.  p.  404.  M.l 


sitiotl  was  constantly  exerting  itself.     Mrs.  Anna  Wil-  175-2. 
hams,  daughter  of  a  very  ingenious  Welsh  physician,  Jj£att 
and  a  woman  of  more  than  ordinary  talents  and  litera-    43, 
ture,  having  come  to  London  in  hopes  of  being  cured  of 
a  cataract  in  both  her  eyes,  which  afterwards  ended  in 
total  blindness,  was  kindly  received  as  a  constant  visitor 
at  his  house  while  Mrs.  Johnson  lived  ;  and,  after  her 
death,  having  come  under  his  roof  in  Order  to  have  an 
operation  upon  her  eyes  performed  with  more  comfort 
to  her  than  in  lodgings,  she  had  an  apartment  from  him 
during  the  rest  of  her  life,  at  all  times  when  he  had  a 

In  1752  he  was  almost  entirely  occupied  with  his 
Dictionary.  The  last  paper  of  his  Rambler  was  pub- 
lished March  2,8  this  year  ;  after  which,  there  was  a 
cessation  for  some  time  of  anv  exertion  of  his  talents  as 
an  essayist.  But,  in  the  same  year,  Dr.  Hawkesworth, 
who  was  his  warm  admirer,  and  a  studious  imitator  of 
his  style,  and  then  lived  in  great  intimacy  with  him, 
began  a  periodical  paper,  entitled,  "  The  Adventur- 
er," in  connection  with  other  gentlemen,  one  of  w horn 
Mas  Johnson's  much-loved  friend,  Dr.  Bathurst  ;  and, 
without  doubt,  thev  received  many  valuable  hints  from 
his  conversation,  most  of  his  friends  having  been  so  as- 
sisted in  the  course  of  their  works. 

That  there  should  be  a  suspension  of  his  literary  la- 
bours during  a  part  of  the  year  1?j5,  will  not  seem 
strange,  when  it  is  considered  that  soon  after  closing 
his  Rambler,  he  suffered  a  loss  which,  there  can  be  no 
doubt,  aflected  him  with  the  deepest  distress.  For  on 
the  17th  of  March,  O.  S.  his  wife  died.  Why  Sir  John 
Hawkins  should  unwarrantably  take  upon  him  even  to 
suppose  that  Johnson's  fondness  for  her  was  dissembled 

2  [Here  the  author's  memory  failed  him,  for,  according  to  the  account  givea 
in  a  former  page,  (see  p.  161,)  we  should  here  read  March  17  ;  but  in  truth,  as 
has  been  already  observed,  the  Rambler  closed  on  Saturday  the  fourteenth  of  March  ; 
at  which  time  Mrs.  Johnson  was  near  her  end,  for  she  died  on  the  following  Tues- 
day, March  17.  Had  the  concluding  paper  of  that  work  been  written  on  the  day 
of  her  death,  it  would  have  been  still  more  extraordinary  than  it  is,  considering 
the  extreme  grief  into  which  the  author  was  plunged  by  that  event. — The  melan- 
choly cast  of  chat  concluding  essay  is  sufficiently  accounted  for  by  the  situation  of 
Mrs.  Johnson  at  the  time  it  was  written  ;  and  her  death  three  days  afterwards  put 
an  end  to  the  Paper.     M.] 

VOL.   T. 

186  THE    LIFE    OF 

1752.  (meaning  simulated  or  assumed,)  and  to  assert,  that  it 
;g^  it  was  not  the  case,  "  it  was  a  lesson  he  had  learned 
43.  by  rote,"  I  cannot  conceive  ;  unless  it  proceeded  from 
a  want  of  similar  feelings  in  his  own  breast.  To  argue 
from  her  being  much  older  than  Johnson,  or  any  other 
circumstances,  that  he  could  not  really  love  her,  is  ab- 
surd ;  for  love  is  not  a  subject  of  reasoning,  but  of 
feeling,  and  therefore  there  are  no  common  principles 
upon  which  one  can  persuade  another  concerning  it. 
Every  man  feels  for  himself,  and  knows  how  he  is  af- 
fected by  particular  qualities  in  the  person  he  admires, 
the  impressions  of  which  are  too  minute  and  delicate 
to  be  substantiated  in  language. 

The  following  very  solemn  and  affecting  prayer  was 
found  after  Dr.  Johnson's  decease,  bv  his  servant,  Mr. 
Francis  Barber,  who  delivered  it  to  my  worthy  friend 
the  Reverend  Mr.  Strahan,  Vicar  of  Islington,  who  at 
my  earnest  request  has  obligingly  favoured  me  with  a 
copy  of  it,  which  he  and  1  compared  with  the  original. 
I  present  it  to  the  world  as  an  undoubted  proof  of  a 
circumstance  in  the  character  of  my  illustrious  friend, 
which,  though  some  whose  hard  minds  I  never  shall 
envy,  may  attack  as  superstitious,  will  1  am  sure  endear 
him  more  to  numbers  of  good  men.  1  have  an  addi- 
tional, and  that  a  personal  motive  for  presenting  it,  be- 
cause it  sanctions  what  I  myself  have  always  maintain- 
ed and  am  fond  to  indulge  : 




April  26,  1752,  being  after  12  at  Night  of  the  25th. 

"  O  Lord  !  Governour  of  heaven  and  earth,  in 
whose  hands  are  embodied  and  departed  Spirits,  if 
thou  hast  ordained  the  Souls  of  the  Dead  to  minister 
to  the  Living,  and  appointed  my  departed  Wife  to 
have  care  of  me,  grant  that  I  may  enjoy  the  good 
effects  of  her  attention  and  ministration,  whether 
exercised  by  appearance,  impulses,  dreams,  or  in  any 
other  manner  agreeable  to  thy  Government.  For- 
give my  presumption,  enlighten  my  ignorance,  and 
however  meaner  agents  are  employed,  grant  me  the 
blessed  influences  of  thy  holy  Spirit,  through  Jesus 
Christ  our  Lord.     Amen." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  187 

What  actually  followed    upon  this  most  interesting  1752. 
piece  of  devotion   by  .Johnson,    we   are  not  informed  ;  ^T^ 
but  1,  whom  it   has  pleased  God  to  afflict  in  a  similar   43, 
manner  to  that  which  occasioned  it,  have  certain  expe- 
rience of  benignant  communication  by  dreams. 

That  his  love  for  his  wife  was  of  the  most  ardent 
kind,  and,  during  the  long  period  of  fifty  years,  was 
unimpaired  by  the  lapse  of  time,  is  evident  from  various 
passages  in  the  series  of  his  Prayers  and  Meditations, 
published  by  the  Reverend  Mr.  Strahan,  as  well  as  from 
other  memorials,  two  of  which  I  select,  as  strongly 
marking  the  tenderness  and  sensibility  of  his  mind. 

"  March  28,  175:3.  1  kept  this  day  as  the  anniver- 
sary of  my  Tetty's  death,  with  prayer  and  tears  in  the 
morning.  In  the  evening  I  prayed  for  her  condition- 
ally, if  it  were  lawful." 

"  April  23,  1753.  I  know  not  whether  I  do  not  too 
much  indulge  the  vain  longings  of  affection  ;  but  I 
hope  they  intenerate  my  heart,  and  that  when  I  die 
like  my  Tetty,  this  affection  will  be  acknowledged  in  a 
happy  interview,  and  that  in  the  mean  time  I  am  inci- 
ted by  it  to  piety.  I  will,  however,  not  deviate  too 
much  from  common  and  received  methods  of  devotion." 

Her  wedding-ring,  when  she  became  his  wife,  was, 
after  her  death,  preserved  by  him,  as  long  as  he  lived, 
with  an  affectionate  care,  in  a  little  round  wooden  box, 
in  the  inside  of  which  he  pasted  a  slip  of  paper,  thus 
inscribed  by  him  in  fair  characters,  as  follows  : 

"  Eheu  ! 
"  Eliz.  Johnson, 
"  Nupta  Jul.  9°   173.6', 
"  iMortua,  cheu  ! 
"  Mart.  17°  1752." 

After  his  death,  Mr.  Francis  Barber,  his  faithful  ser- 
vant, and  residuary  legatee,  offered  this  memorial  of 
tenderness  to  Mrs.  Lucy  Porter,  Mrs.  Johnson's  daugh- 
ter ;  but  she  having  declined  to  accept  of  it,  he  had  it 
enamelled  as  a  mourning  ring  for  his  old  master,  and 
presented  it  to  his  wife,  Mrs.  Barber,  who  now  has  it. 

The  state  of  mind  in  which  a  man  must  be  upon  the 
death  of  a  woman  whom  he  sincerely  loves,  had  been 

188  THE    LIFE    OF 

1752.  in  his  contemplation  many  years  before.     In  his  Irene, 
j£tat^  we  fi,K*  tne  following  fervent  and  tender  speech  of  De- 
43.    metrius,  addressed  to  his  Aspasia  : 

"  From  those  bright  regions  of  eternal  day, 

"  Where  now  thou  shin'st  amongst  thy  fellow  saints, 

"  Array'd  in  purer  light,  look  down  on  me  ! 

"  In  pleasing  visions  and  assuasive  dreams, 

"  O  !  sooth  my  soul,  and  teach  me  how  to  lose  thee.' 

I  have,  indeed,  been  told  by  Mrs.  Desmoulins,  who, 
before  her  marriage,  lived  for  some  time  with  Mrs.  John- 
son at  Hampstead,  that  she  indulged  herself  in  country 
air  and  nice  living,  at  an  unsuitable  expence,  while  her 
husband  was  drudging  in  the  smoke  of  London,  and  that 
she  by  no  means  treated  him  with  that  complacency 
which  is  the  most  engaging  quality  in  a  wife.  But  all 
this  is  perfectly  compatible  with  his  fondness  for  her, 
especially  when  it  is  remembered  that  he  had  a  high 
opinion  of  her  understanding,  and  that  the  impressions 
which  her  beauty,  real  or  imaginary,  had  originally  made 
upon  his  fancy,  being  continued  by  habit,  had  not  been 
effaced,  though  she  herself  was  doubtless  much  al- 
tered for  the  worse.  The  dreadful  shock  of  separation 
took  place  in  the  night ;  and  he  immediately  dispatched 
a  letter  to  his  friend,  the  Reverend  Dr.  Taylor,  which, 
as  Taylor  told  me,  expressed  grief  in  the  strongest  man- 
ner he  had  ever  read  ;  so  that  it  is  much  to  be  regretted 
it  has  not  been  preserved.9  The  letter  was  brought  to 
Dr.  Taylor,  at  his  house  in  the  Cloysters,  Westminster, 
about  three  in  the  morning  ;  and  as  it  signified  an  earn- 
est desire  to  see  him,  he  got  up,  and  went  to  Johnson 
as  soon  as  he  was  dressed,  and  found  him  in  tears  and 
in  extreme  agitation.  After  being  a  little  while  togeth- 
er, Johnson  requested  him  to  join  with  him  in  prayer. 
He  then  prayed   extempore,  as  did  Dr.  Taylor  ;  and 

s  [In  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  for  February,  1794,  (p.  100,)  was  printed  a  let- 
ter pretending  to  be  that  written  by  Johnson  on  the  death  of  his  wife.  But  it  is 
merely  a  transcript  of  the  41st  number  of  "  The  Idler."  A  fictitious  date,  March 
17,  1751,  O.  S.  was  added  by  some  person,  previously  to  this  paper's  being  sent  to 
the  publisher  of  that  miscellany,  to  give  a  colour  to  this  deception.    M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  18°/ 

thus  by  means  of  that  piety  which  was  ever  his  primary  1752. 
object,  his  troubled  mind  was,  in  some  degree,  soothed  J^ 
and  composed.  43, 

The  next  day  he  wrote  as  follows  : 

"  DEAR  SIR, 

"  Let  me  have  your  company  and  instruction. 
Do  not  live  away  from  me.     My  distress  is  great. 

"  Pray  desire  Mrs.  Taylor  to  inform  me  what  mourn- 
ing 1  should  buy  for  my  mother  and  Miss  Porter,  and 
bring  a  note  in  writing  with  you. 

"  Remember  me  in  your  prayers,  for  vain  is  the  help 
of  man. 

"  I  am,  dear  Sir,  &c. 
"  March  18,  1732.  "  Sam.  Johnson. 


That  his  sufferings  upon  the  death  of  his  wife  were 
severe,  beyond  what  are  commonly  endured,  1  have  no 
doubt,  from  the  information  of  many  who  were  then 
about  him,  to  none  of  whom  1  give  more  credit  than 
to  Mr.  Francis  Barber,  his  faithful  negro  servant, '  who 
came  into  his  familv  about  a  fortnight  after  the  dismal 
event.  These  sufferings  were  aggravated  by  the  mel- 
ancholy inherent  in  his  constitution  ;  and  although  he 
probably  was  not  oftener  in  the  wrong  than  she  was,  in 
the  little  disagreements  which  sometimes  troubled  his 
married  state,  during  which,  he  owned  to  me,  that  the 
gloomy  irritability  of  his  existence  was  more  painful  to 
him  than  ever,  he  might  very  naturally,  after  her  death, 
be  tenderly  disposed  to  charge  himself  with  slight 
omissions  and  offences,  the  sense  of  which  would  give 

!  Francis  Barber  was  born  in  Jamaica,  and  was  brought  to  England  in  1750  by 
Oolonel  Bathurst,  father  of  Johnson's  very  intimate  friend,  Dr.  Bathurst.  He  was 
sent,  for  some  time,  to  the  Reverend  Mr.  Jackson's  school,  at  Barton,  in  York- 
shire. The  Colonel  by  his  will  left  him  his  freedom,  and  Dr.  Bathurst  was  willing 
*hat  he  should  enter  into  Johnson's  service,  in  which  he  continued  from  1752  till 
Johnson's  death,  with  the  exception  of  two  intervals  ;  in  one  of  which,  upon  some 
difference  with  his  master,  he  went  and  served  an  apothecary  in  Cheapside,  but 
?till  visited  Dr.  Johnson  occasionally  ;  in  another,  he  took  a  fancy  to  go  to  sea. 
Part  of  the  time,  indeed,  he  was,  by  the  kindness  of  his  master,  at  a  school  in  Nor  th- 
amptonshire,  that  he  might  have  the  advantage  of  some  learning.  So  early,  and 
;o  lasting  a  connection  was  there  between  Dr.  Johnson  and  tins  humble  friend. 

190  THE    LIFE    OF 

1752.  him  much  uneasiness.*  Accordingly  we  find,  about 
JEtaT  a  year  a*ter  ner  decease,  that  he  thus  addressed  the 
43.  Supreme  Being:  "O  Lord,  who  givest  the  grace  of 
repentance,  and  nearest  the  prayers  of  the  penitent, 
grant  that  by  true  contrition  I  may  obtain  forgiveness 
of  all  the  sins  committed,  and  of  all  duties  neglected, 
in  my  union  with  the  wife  whom  thou  hast  taken  from 
me  ;  for  the  neglect  of  joint  devotion,  patient  exhorta- 
tion, and  mild  instruction/'2  The  kindness  of  his 
heart,  notwithstanding  the  impetuosity  of  his  temper, 
is  well  known  to  his  friends  ;  and  I  cannot  trace  the 
smallest  foundation  for  the  following  dark  and  unchar- 
itable  assertion  by  Sir  John  Hawkins  :  "  The  apparition 
of  his  departed  wife  was  altogether  of  theterrifick  kind, 
and  hardly  afforded  him  a  hope  that  she  was  in  a  state 
of  happiness."3  That  he,  in  conformity  with  the  opin- 
ion of  many  of  the  most  able,  learned,  and  pious  Christ- 
ians in  all  ages,  supposed  that  there  was  a  middle  state 
after  death,  previous  to  the  time  at  which  departed 
souls  are  finally  received  to  eternal  felicity,  appears,  ] 
think,  unquestionably  from  his  devotions:*  "And,  O 
Lord,  so  far  as  it  may  be  lawful  in  me,  I  commend  to 
thy  fatherly  goodness  the  soul  of  my  departed  wife  ;  be- 
seeching thee  to  grant  her  whatever  is  best  in  her 
present  state,  and  tinalhf  to  receive  her  to  eternal  happi- 
ness."* But  this  state  has  not  been  looked  upon  with 
horrour,  but  only  as  less  gracious. 

He  deposited  the  remains   of  Mrs.  Johnson  in   the 
church  of  Bromley  in  Kent,6  to  which  he  was  proba- 

*  [See  his  beautiful  and  affecting  Rambler,  No.  54.     M.] 

2  Prayers  and  Meditations,  p.  1 9. 

3  Hawkins's  Life  of  Johnson,  p.  316. 

*  [It  does  not  appear  that  Johnson  was  fully  persuaded  that  there  was  a  middle 
state  ;  his  prayers  being  only  conditional,  i.  e.  if  such  a  state  existed.     M.] 

5  Prayers  and   Meditations,  p.  20. 

*  [A  few  months  before  his  death,  Johnson  honoured  her  memory  by  the  follow- 
ing epitaph,  which  was  inscribed  on  her  tomb-stone,  in  the  church  of  Bromley  : 

Hie   conduntur  reliquiae 


Antiqua  Jarvisiorum  gente, 

Peatlingse,  apud  Leicestrienses,  ortse  ; 

Formosa^,  cults,  ingeniosas,  pise  ; 

Uxoris,  primis  nuptiis,  Henrici  Porter, 

DR.   JOHNSON.  191 


bly  led  by  the  residence  of  his  friend  Hawkesworth  at  1752. 
that  place.  The  funeral  sermon  which  he  composed  ^T^J" 
for  her,  which  was  never  preached,  but  having  been  43, 
given  to  Dr.  Taylor,  has  boon  published  since  his 
death,  is  a  performance  of  uncommon  excellence,  and 
fuli  of  rational  and  pious  comfort  to  such  as  are  de- 
pressed by  that  severe  affliction  which  Johnson  felt 
when  he  wrote  it.  When  it  is  considered  that  it  was 
written  in  such  an  agitation  of  mind,  and  in  the  short 
interval  between  her  death  and  burial,  it  cannot  be 
read  without  wonder. 

From  Mr.  Francis  Barber  I  have  had  the  following 
authentick  and  artless  account  of  the  situation  in  which 
he  found  him  recently  after  his  wife's  death  :  "  He 
"  was  in  great  affliction.  Mrs.  Williams  was  then  liv- 
"  ing  in  his  house,  which  was  in  Gough-square.  He 
"  was  busy  with  the  Dictionary.  Mr.  Shiels,  and 
"  some  others  of  the  gentlemen  who  had  former!  v  writ- 
"  ten  for  him,  used  to  come  about  him.  He  had  then 
"  little  for  himself,  but  frequently  sent  money  to  Mr. 
"  Shiels  when  in  distress.  The  friends  who  visited 
"  him  at  that  time,  were  chiefly  Dr.  Bathurst,7  and 
"  Mr.  Diamond,  an  apothecary  in  Cork-street,  Burling- 
"  ton-gardens,  with  whom  he  and  Mrs.  Williams  gen- 
"  erally  dined  every  Sunday.  There  was  a  talk  of  his 
"  going  to  Iceland  with  him,  which  would  probably 
•'  have  happened,  had  he  lived.  There  were  also  Mr. 
"  Cave,  Dr.  Hawkesworth,  Mr.  R viand,  merchant  on 
"  Tower-hill,  Mrs.  Masters,  the  poetess,  who  lived  with 
"  Mr.  Cave,  Mrs.  Carter,  and  sometimes  Mrs.  Macaul- 
'-•  ay;  also,  Mrs.  Gardiner,  wife  of  a  tallow-chandler  on 

Secundig,  Samuelis  Johnson  ; 

Qui  multum  amatam,  diuque  defletam 

Hoc  lapide  contexit. 

Obiit  Londini,  Mense  Mart. 

A.  D.  MDCCLII.  M.] 

Dr.  Bathurst,  though  a  physician  of  no  inconsiderable  merit,  had  not  the  good 
fortune  to  get  much  practice  in  London.  He  was,  therefore,  willing  to  accept  of 
employment  abroad,  and,  to  the  regret  of  all  who  knew  him,  fell  a  sacrifice  to  the 
destructive  climate,  in  the  expedition  against  the  Havannah.  Mr.  Langton  recol- 
lects the  following  passage  in  a  letter  from  Dr.  Johnson  to  Mr.  Beauclerk  :  "  The 
Havannah  is  taken  ; — a  conquest  too  dearly  obtained  ;  for,  Bathurst  died  before  it 
"  fix  Priamus  tattti  totaquc  Tr"i<i  fuit." 

192  THE    LIFE    Of 

1752.  "  Sriow-hill,  not  in  the  learned  way,  but  a  worthy  good 

JEtaT  "  woman  ;  ^r-  (now  Sir  Joshua)   Reynolds  ;  Mr.  Mil- 

43. '  "  ler,  Mr.  Dodsley,  Mr.  Bouquet,   Mr.  Payne,  of  Pa- 

"  ternoster-row,  booksellers ;  Mr.  Strahan,  the  printer ; 

"  the  Earl  of  Orrery,  Lord  Southwell,  Mr.  Garrick." 

Many  are,  no  doubt,  omitted  in  this  catalogue  of  his 
friends,  and  in  particular,  his  humble  friend  Mr.  Rob- 
ert Levet,  an  obscure  practiser  in  physick  amongst  the 
lower  people,  his  fees  being  sometimes  very  small  sums, 
sometimes  whatever  provisions  his  patients  could  a  fiord 
him  ;  but  of  such  extensive  practice  in  that  way,  that 
Mrs.  Williams  has  told  me,  his  walk  was  from  Hounds- 
ditch  to  Mary  bone.  It  appears  from  Johnson's  diary,. 
that  their  acquaintance  commenced  about  the  year 
1746  ;  and  such  was  Johnson's  predilection  for  him, 
and  fanciful  estimation  of  his  moderate  abilities,  that  1 
have  heard  him  say  he  should  not  be  satisfied,  though 
attended  by  all  the  College  of  Physicians,  unless  he 
had  Mr.  Levet  with  him.  Ever  since  I  was  acquainted 
with  Dr.  Johnson,  and  many  years  before,  as  1  have 
been  assured  by  those  who  knew  him  earlier,  Mr.  Levet 
had  an  apartment  in  his  house,  or  his  chambers,  and 
waited  upon  him  every  morning,  through  the  whole 
course  of  his  late  and  tedious  breakfast.  He  was  of  a 
strange  grotesque  appearance,  stiff  and  formal  in  his 
manner,  and  seldom  said  a  word  while  any  company 
was  present.8 

The  circle  of  his  friends,  indeed,  at  this  time  was  ex- 
tensive and  various,  far  beyond  what  has  been  generally 
imagined.  To  trace  his  acquaintance  with  each  par- 
ticular person,  if  it  could  be  done,  would  be  a  task,  of 
which  the  labour  would  not  be  repaid  by  the  advan- 
tage. But  exceptions  are  to  be  made  ;  one  of  which 
must  be  a  friend  so  eminent  as  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds, 
who  was  truly  his  duke  decus,  and  with  whom  he 
maintained  an  uninterrupted  intimacy  to  the  last  houi 
of  his  life.  When  Johnson  lived  in  Castle-street,  Cav- 
endish-square,  he  used  frequently  to  visit  two  ladies 

8  [A  more  particular  account  of  this  person  may  be  found  in  the  Gentleman'.' 
Magazine  for  February  ]  785.  It  originally  appeared  in  the  St.  James's  Chronicle 
and;  I  believe,  was  written  by  the  late  George  Steevens,  Es<j.    M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  193 

who  lived  opposite  to  him,  Miss  Cotterells,  daughters  *752. 
of  Admiral  Cotterell.  Reynolds  used  also  to  visit  ^^ 
there,  and  thus  they  met.  Air.  Reynolds,  as  I  have  ob-  43, 
served  above,  had,  from  the  first  reading-  of  his  Life  of 
Savage,  conceived  a  very  high  admiration  of  Johnson's 
powers  of  writing.  His  conversation  no  less  delighted 
him  ;  and  he  cultivated  his  acquaintance  with  the  laud- 
able zeal  of  one  who  was  ambitious  of  general  im- 
provement. Sir  Joshua,  indeed,  was  lucky  enough  at 
their  very  first  meeting  to  make  a  remark,  which  was 
so  much  above  the  common-place  style  of  conversation, 
that  Johnson  at  once  perceived  that  Reynolds  had  the 
habit  of  thinking  for  himself.  The  ladies  were  regret- 
ting the  death  of  a  friend,  to  whom  they  owed  great 
obligations  ;  upon  which  Reynolds  observed,  "  You 
have,  however,  the  comfort  of  being  relieved  from  a 
burthen  of  gratitude."  They  were  shocked  a  little  at 
this  alleviating  suggestion,  as  too  selfish  ;  but  Johnson 
defended  it  in  his  clear  and  forcible  manner,  and  was 
much  pleased  with  the  mind,  the  fair  view  of  human 
nature,  which  it  exhibited,  like  some  of  the  reflections 
of  Rochefaucault.  The  consequence  was,  that  he  went 
home  with  Reynolds,  and  supped  with  him. 

Sir  Joshua  told  me  a  pleasant  characteristical  anec- 
dote of  Johnson  about  the  time  of  their  first  acquaint- 
ance.  When  they  were  one  evening  together  at  the 
Miss  Cotterells',  the  then  Duchess  of  Argyle  and  anoth- 
er ladv  of  his:h  rank  came  in.  Johnson  thinking  that 
the  Miss  Cotterells  were  too  much  engrossed  by  them, 
and  that  he  and  his  friend  were  neglected,  as  low  com- 
pany of  whom  they  were  somewhat  ashamed,  grew  an- 
gry ;  and  resolving  to  shock  their  supposed  pride,  by 
making  their  great  visitors  imagine  that  his  friend  and 
he  were  low  indeed,  he  addressed  himself  in  a  loud 
tone  to  Mr.  Reynolds,  saying,  41  How  much  do  you 
think  you  and  1  could  get  in  a  week,  if  we  were  to  work 
as  hard  as  we  could  !" — as  if  thev  had  been  common 

His  acquaintance  with  Rennet  Langton,  Esq.  of  Lang- 
ton,  in  Lincolnshire,  another  much  valued  friend,  com- 
menced soon  after  the  conclusion  of  his  Rambler  ;  which 

VOL.  I.  ?J 

19^  THE    LIFE    OF 

^752.  that  gentleman,  then  a  youth,  had  read  with  so  much 
j$r/J7'  admiration,  that  he  came  to  London  chiefly  with  a  view 
43.  ©f  endeavouring  to  be  introduced  to  its  authour.  By  a 
fortunate  chance  he  happened  to  take  lodgings  in  a 
house  where  Mr.  Levet  frequently  visited  ;  and  having 
mentioned  his  wish  to  his  landlady,  she  introduced  him 
to  Mr.  Levet,  who  readily  obtained  Johnson's  permis- 
sion to  bring  Mr.  Langton  to  him  ;  as,  indeed,  Johnson, 
during  the  whole  course  of  his  life,  had  no  shyness,  real 
or  affected,  but  was  easy  of  access  to  all  who  were  prop- 
erly recommended,  and  even  wished  to  see  numbers  at 
his  levee,  as  his  morning  circle  of  company  might,  with 
strict  propriety,  be  called.  Mr.  Langton  was  exceed- 
ingly surprised  when  the  sage  first  appeared.  He  had 
not  received  the  smallest  intimation  of  his  figure,  dress, 
or  manner.  From  perusing  his  writings,  he  fancied  he 
should  see  a  decent,  well-drest,  in  short,  a  remarkably 
decorous  philosopher.  Instead  of  which,  down  from 
his  bed-chamber,  about  noon,  came,  as  newly  risen,  a 
huge  uncouth  figure,  with  a  little  dark  wig  which  scarce- 
ly covered  his  head,  and  his  clothes  hanging  loose  about 
him.  But  his  conversation  was  so  rich,  so  animated, 
and  so  forcible,  and  his  religious  and  political  notions  so 
congenial  with  those  in  which  Langton  had  been  edu- 
cated, that  he  conceived  for  him  that  veneration  and  at- 
tachment which  he  ever  preserved.  Johnson  was  not 
the  less  ready  to  love  Mr.  Langton,  for  his  beino-  of  a 
very  ancient  family  ;  for  I  have  heard  him  say,  with 
pleasure,  "  Langton,  Sir,  has  a  grant  of  free  warren 
from  Henry  the  Second  ;  and  Cardinal  Stephen  Lang- 
ton, in  King  John's  reign,  was  of  this  family." 

Mr.  Langton  afterwards  went  to  pursue  his  studies  at 
Trinity  College,  Oxford,  where  he  formed  an  acquaint- 
ance with  his  fellow  student,  Mr.  Topham  Beauclerk  ; 
who,  though  their  opinions  and  modes  of  life  were  so 
different,  that  it  seemed  utterly  improbable  that  they 
should  at  all  agree,  had  so  ardent  a  love  of  literature, 
so  acute  an  understanding,  such  elegance  of  manners^ 
and  so  well  discerned  the  excellent  qualities  of  Mr. 
Langton,  a  gentleman  eminent  not  only  for  worth  and 
learning,  but  for  an  inexhaustible  fund  of  entertaining 
conversation,  that  they  became  intimate  friends. 

«n.   JOHNSON.  193 

Johnson,  soon  after  (his  acquaintance  began,  passed  1759. 
a  considerable  time  at  Oxford.  He  al  first  thought  it  ^^ 
strange  that  Langton  should  associate  so  much  with  43. 
•nc  who  had  the  character  of  being  loose,  both  in  his 
principles  and  practice  :  but,  by  degrees,  he  himself 
was  fascinated.  Mr.  Beauclerk's  being  of  the  St.  Al- 
ban's  family,  and  having,  in  some  particulars,  a  resem- 
blance to  Charles  the  Second,  contributed,  in  Johnson's 
imagination,  to  throw  a  lustre  upon  his  other  qualities; 
and  in  a  short  time,  the  moral,  pious  Johnson,  and  the 
gay,  dissipated  Beauclerk,  were  companions.  "  What 
a  coalition  !  (said  Garrick,  when  he  heard  of  this  :)  [ 
shall  have  my  old  friend  to  bail  out  of  the  Round- 
house." But  1  can  bear  testimony  that  it  was  a  very 
agreeable  association.  Beauclerk  was  too  polite,  and 
valued  learning  and  wit  too  much,  to  offend  Johnson 
by  sallies  of  infidelity  or  licentiousness  ;  and  Johnson 
delighted  in  the  good  qualities  of  Beauclerk,  and  hoped 
to  correct  the  evil.  Innumerable  were  the  scenes  in 
which  Johnson  was  amused  by  these  young;  men. 
Beauclerk  could  take  more  liberty  with  him,  than  any 
body  with  whom  1  ever  saw  him  ;  but,  on  the  other 
hand,  Eieaucierk  was  not  spared  by  his  respectable  com- 
panion, when  reproof  was  proper.  Beauclerk  had  such 
a  propensity  to  satire,  that  at  one  time  Johnson  said  to 
him,  "  You  never  open  your  mouth  but  with  intention 
to  give  pain  ;  and  you  have  often  given  me  pain,  not 
from  the  power  of  what  you  said,  but  from  seeing  your 
intention.''  At  another  time  applying  to  him,  with  a 
slight  alteration,  a  line  of  Pope,  he  said, 

"  Thy  love  of  folly,  and  thy  scorn  of  fools — 

Every  thing  thou  dost  shews  the  one,  and  every  thing 
thou  say'st  the  other."  At  another  time  he  said  to  him, 
"  Thy  body  is  all  vice,  and  thy  mind  all  virtue."  Beau- 
clerk not  seeming  to  relish  the  compliment,  Johnson 
said,  "  Nay,  Sir,  Alexander  the  Great,  marching  in  tri- 
umph into  Babylon,  could  not  have  desired  to  have  had 
more  said  to  him." 

Johnson  was  some  time  with  Beauclerk  at  his  house 
at  Windsor,  where  he  was  entertained  with  experiments 

196  THE    LIFE    OF 

1752.  in  natural  philosophy.  One  Sunday,  when  the  weather 
3?£^  was  very  fine,  Beauclerk  enticed  him,  insensibly  to 
43.  saunter  about  all  the  morning.  They  went  into  si 
church-yard,  in  the  time  of  divine  service,  and  Johnson 
laid  himself  down  at  his  ease  upon  one  of  the  tomb- 
stones. "  Now,  Sir,  (said  Beauclerk)  you  are  like  Ho- 
garth's Idle  Apprentice."  When  Johnson  got  his  pen- 
sion, Beauclerk  said  to  him,  in  the  humourous  phrase 
of  FalstafF,  "  I  hope  you'll  now  purge  and  live  cleanly, 
like  a  gentleman." 

One  night  when  Beauclerk  and  Langton  had  supped 
at  a  tavern  in  London,  and  sat  till  about  three  in  the 
morning,  it  came  into  their  heads  to  go  and  knock  up 
Johnson,  and  see  if  they  could  prevail  on  him  to  join 
them  in  a  ramble.  They  rapped  violently  at  the  door 
of  his  chambers  in  the  Temple,  till  at  last  he  appeared 
in  his  shirt,  with  his  little  black  wig  on  the  top  of  his 
head,  instead  of  a  nightcap,  and  a  poker  in  his  hand, 
imagining,  probably,  that  some  ruffians  were  coming  to 
attack  him.  When  he  discovered  who  they  were,  and  was 
told  their  errand,  he  smiled,  and  with  great  good  humour 
agreed  to  their  proposal  :  ;i  What,  is  it  you,  you  dogs  ! 
I'll  have  a  frisk  with  you."  He  was  soon  drest,  and 
they  sallied  forth  together  into  Covent-Garden,  where 
the  green-grocers  and  fruiterers  were  beginning  to  ar- 
range their  hampers,  just  come  in  from  the  country. 
Johnson  made  some  attempts  to  help  them  ;  but  the 
honest  gardeners  stared  so  at  his  figure  and  manner,  and 
odd  interference,  that  he  soon  saw  his  services  were  not 
relished.  They  then  repaired  to  one  of  the  neighbour- 
ing taverns,  and  made  a  bowl  of  that  liquor  called  Bish- 
op, which  Johnson  had  always  liked  :  while  in  joyous 
contempt  of  sleep,  from  which  he  had  been  roused,  he 
repeated  the  festive  lines, 

Short,  O  short  then  be  thy  reign, 
And  give  us  to  the  world  again  !"9 

9  Mr.  Langton  has  recollected,  or  Dr.  Johnson  repeated,  the  passage  wrong 
The  lines  are  in  Lord  Lansdowne's  Drinking  Song  to  Sleep,  and  run  thus  : 

"  Short,  very  short  be  then  thy  reign, 

'■'■  For  l"m  in  ha;te  to  laugh  and  drink  again," 

DR.    JOHNSON.  197 

They  did   not  stay  long,   but  walked  down  to  the  1753. 
Thames,  took  a  boat,  and  rowed  to  Billingsgate.     Beau-  ^^ 
clerk  and   Johnson    were   so  well   pleased   with   their    44. 
amusement,  that  they  resolved  to  persevere  in  dissipa- 
tion for  the  rest  of  the  day  :  but  Langton  deserted  them, 
being  engaged  to  breakfast   with  some  young  ladies. 
Johnson  scolded  him  for  "  leaving  his  social  friends,  to 
0-0  and  sit  with  a  set  of  wretched  un-idead  girls."    Gar- 
rick  being  told  of  this  ramble,  said  to  him  smartly,  "  I 
heard  of  your  frolick  t'other  night.     You'll   be  in  the 
Chronicle."     Upon  which  Johnson  afterwards  observ- 
ed, "  He  durst  not  do  such  a  thing,  His  wife  would 
not  let  him  !" 

He  entered  upon  this  year  \Jo3  with  his  usual  piety, 
as  appears  from  the  following  prayer,  which  I  transcrib- 
ed from  that  part  of  his  diary  which  he  burnt  a  few 
days  before  his  death  : 

"  Jan.  1*1 7o3,  N.  S.  which  I  shall  use  for  the  future. 

"  Almighty  God,  who  hast  continued  my  life  to  this 
day,  grant  that,  by  the  assistance  of  thy  Holy  Spirit,  I 
may  improve  the  time  which  thou  shalt  grant  me,  to 
my  eternal  salvation.  Make  me  to  remember,  to  thy 
glory,  thy  judgements  and  thy  mercies.  Make  me  so  to 
consider  the  loss  of  my  wife,  whom  thou  hast  taken 
from  me,  that  it  may  dispose  me,  by  thy  grace,  to  lead 
the  residue  of  my  life  in  thy  fear.  Grant  this,  O  Lord, 
for  Jesus  Christ's  sake.     Amen." 

He  now  relieved  the  drudgery  of  his  Dictionary,  and 
the  melancholy  of  his  grief,  by  taking  an  active  part  in 
the  composition  of  "  The  Adventurer,"  in  which  he 
began  to  write  April  10,  marking  his  essays  with  the 
signature  T,  by  which  most  of  his  papers  in  that  col- 
lection are  distinguished  :  those,  however,  which  have 
that  signature  and  also  that  of  Mi/sargyrus,  were  not 
written  by  him,  but,  as  I  suppose,  by  Dr.  Bathurst.  In- 
deed Johnson's  energy  of  thought  and  richness  of  lan- 
guage, are  still  more  decisive  marks  than  any  signature. 
As  a  proof  of  this,  my  readers,  1  imagine,  will  not  doubt 
that  number  39,  on  sleep,  is  his  ;  for  it  not  only  has  the 
general  texture  and  colour  of  his  style,  but  the  authours 
with  whom  he  was  peculiarly  conversant  are  readily  in- 

19&  THE    LIFE    OP 

1753.  troduced  in  it  in  cursory  allusion.  The  translation  of  a 
iEtat.  Passage  in  Statius  quoted  in  that  paper,  and  marked  C. 
44.  B.  has  been  erroneously  ascribed  to  Dr.  Bathurst,  whose 
Christian  name  was  Richard.  How  much  this  amiable 
man  actually  contributed  to  "  The  Adventurer,"  can- 
not  be  known.  Let  me  add  that  ITawkes  worth's  imi- 
tations of  Johnson  are  sometimes  so  happy,  that  it  is 
extremely  difficult  to  distinguish  them  with  certainty, 
from  the  compositions  of  his  great  archetype.  Hawkes- 
worth  was  his  closest  imitator,  a  circumstance  of  which 
that  writer  would  once  have  been  proud  to  be  told  ; 
though,  when  he  had  become  elated  by  having  risen 
into  some  degree  of  consequence,  he,  in  a  conversation 
with  me,  had  the  provoking  effrontery  to  say  he  was  not 
sensible  of  it. 

Johnson  was  truly  zealous  for  the  success  of  "  The 
Adventurer  ;"  and  very  soon  after  his  engaging  in  it. 
he  wrote  the  following  letter  : 

"  DEAR  SIR, 

"  I  ought  to  have  written  to  you  before  now,  but 
1  ought  to  do  many  things  which  1  do  not ;  nor  can  I, 
indeed,  claim  any  merit  from  this  letter ;  for  being  de- 
sired by  the  authours  and  proprietor  of  the  Adventurer 
to  look  out  for  another  hand,  my  thoughts  necessarily 
fixed  upon  you,  whose  fund  of  literature  will  enable 
you  to  assist  them,  with  very  little  interruption  of  your 

"  They  desire  you  to  engage  to  furnish  one  paper  a 
month,  at  two  guineas  a  paper,  which  you  may  very 
readily  perform.  We  have  considered  that  a  paper 
should  consist  of  pieces  of  imagination,  pictures  of  life, 
and  disquisitions  of  literature.  The  part  which  depends 
on  the  imagination  is  very  well  supplied,  as  you  will 
find  when  you  read  the  paper  ;  for  descriptions  of  life, 
there  is  now  a  treaty  almost  made  with  an  authour  and 
an  authouress  ;  and  the  province  of  criticism  and  lite- 
rature they  are  very  desirous  to  assign  to  the  commen- 
tator on  Virgil. 

DR.   JOHNSON.  199 

"  I  hope  this  proposal  will  not  be  rejected,  and  that  1753. 
the  next  post  will  bring  us  your  compliance.     1  speak  jgj^ 
as  one  of  the  fraternity,  though  1  have  no  part  in  the   44. 
paper,  beyond  now  and  then  a  motto  ;  but  two  of  the 
writers  are  my  particular  friends,  and  1  hope  the  pleas- 
ure of  seeing  a  third  united  to  them,  will  not  be  denied 
to,  dear  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obedient, 

"  And  most  humble  servant, 

"  March  8,  1753.  "Sam.  Johnson." 

The  consequence  of  this  letter  was,  Dr.  Warton's 
enriching  the  collection  with  several  admirable  essays. 

Johnson's  saying  "  1  have  no  part  in  the  paper  be- 
yond now  and  then  a  motto,"  may  seem  inconsistent 
with  his  being  the  authour  of  the  papers  marked  T. 
But  he  had,  at  this  time,  written  only  one  number  ; 
and  besides,  even  at  any  after  period,  he  might  have 
used  the  same  expression,  considering  it  as  a  point  of 
honour  not  to  own  them  ;  for  Mrs.  Williams  told  me 
that,  "  as  he  had  given  those  Essays  to  Dr.  Bathurst, 
who  sold  them  at  two  guineas  each,  he  never  would 
own  them  ;  nay,  he  used  to  say  he  did  not  write  them  : 
but  the  fact  was,  that  he  dictated  them,  while  Bathurst 
wrote."  1  read  to  him  Mrs.  Williams's  account ;  he 
smiled,  and  said  nothing. 

I  am  not  quite  satisfied  with  the  casuistry  by  which 
the  productions  of  one  person  are  thus  passed  upon  the 
world  for  the  productions  of  another.  1  allow  that  not 
only  knowledge,  but  powers  and  qualities  of  mind  may 
be  communicated  ;  but  the  actual  effect  of  individual 
exertion  never  can  be  transferred,  with  truth,  to  any 
other  than  its  own  original  cause.  One  person's  child 
may  be  made  the  child  of  another  person  by  adoption, 
as  among  the  Romans,  or  by  the  ancient  Jewish  mode 
of  a  wife  having  children  borne  to  her  upon  her  knees, 
by  her  handmaid.  But  these  were  children  in  a  dif- 
ferent sense  from  that  of  nature.  It  was  clearly  under- 
stood that  they  were  not  of  the  blood  of  their  nominal 
parents.  So  in  literary  children,  an  authour  may  give 
the  profits  and  fame  of  his  composition  to  another  man, 

200  THE    LIFE    OF 

1753.  but  cannot  make  that  other  the  real  authour.  A  High - 
JEtaT  'anc'  gentleman,  a  younger  branch  of  a  family,  once 
44>  consulted  me  if  he  could  not  validly  purchase  the  Chief- 
tainship of  his  family  from  the  Chief  who  was  willing 
to  sell  it.  1  told  him  it  was  impossible  for  him  to  ac- 
quire, by  purchase,  a  right  to  be  a  different  person 
from  what  he  really  was  ;  for  that  the  right  of  Chief- 
tainship attached  to  the  blood  of  primogeniture,  and, 
therefore,  was  incapable  of  ?being  transferred.  1  added, 
that  though  Esau  sold  his  birth-right,  or  the  advantages 
belonging  to  it,  he  still  remained  the  first-born  of  his 
parents ;  and  that  whatever  agreement  a  Chief  might 
make  with  any  of  the  clan,  the  Heralds-Office  could 
not  admit  of  the  metamorphosis,  or  with  any  decency 
attest  that  the  younger  was  the  elder ;  but  I  did  not 
convince  the  worthy  gentleman. 

Johnson's  papers  in  the  Adventurer  are  very  similar 
to  those  of  the  Rambler ;  but  being  rather  more  varied 
in  their  subjects,'  and  being  mixed  with  essays  by- 
other  writers,  upon  topicks  more  generally  attractive 
than  even  the  most  elegant  ethical  discourses,  the  sale 
of  the  work,  at  first,  was  more  extensive.  Without 
meaning,  however,  to  depreciate  the  Adventurer,  I  must 
observe,  that  as  the  value  of  the  Rambler  came,  in  the 
progress  of  time,  to  be  better  known,  it  grew  upon  the 
publick  estimation,  and  that  its  sale  has  far  exceeded 
that  of  any  other  periodical  papers  since  the  reign  of 
Queen  Anne. 

In  one  of  the  books  of  his  diary  I  find  the  following 
entrv  : 

"  Apr.  3,  1753.  I  began  the  second  vol.  of  my  Dic- 
tionary, room  being  left  in  the  first  for  Preface,  Cram- 
mar,  and  History,  none  of  them  yet  begun. 

"  O  God,  who  hast  hitherto  supported  me,  enable 
me  to  proceed  in  this  labour,  and  in  the  whole  task  of 
my  present  state  ;  that  when  1  shall  render  up,  at  the 
last  day,  an  account  of  the  talent  committed  to  me,  I 
may  receive  pardon,  for  the  sake  of  Jesus  Christ. 

'  [Dr.  Johnson  lowered  and  somewhat  disguised  his  style,  in  writing  the  Adven- 
turers, in  order  that  his  Papers  might  pass  for  those  of  Dr.  Bathurst,  to  whom  he 
consigned  the  profits.    This  was  Hawkesworth's  opinion.    B-] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  201 

He  this  year  favoured  Mrs.  Lenox  with  a  Dcdica- 1754. 
tion*  to  the  Earl  of  Orrery,  of  her  "Shakspeare  111  us-  j£t^ 
trated."1  4.5. 

In  17o4  I  can  trace  nothing  published  by  him,^x- 
cept  his  numbers  of  the  Adventurer,  and  kl  TheTjfe 
of  Edward  Cave/'*  in  the  gentleman's  Magazine  for 
February.  In  biography  there  can  be  no  question  that 
he  excelled,  beyond  all  who  have  attempjgd  that  spe- 
cies of  composition  ;  upon  which,  indeed,  ne  set  the 
highest  value.  To  the  minute  selection  of  character- 
istical  circumstances,  for  which  the  ancients  were  re- 
markable, he  added  a  philosophical  research,  and  the 
most  perspicuous  and  energetick  language.  Cave  was 
certainly  a  man  of  estimable  qualities,  and  was  emi- 
nently diligent  and  successful  in  his  own  business, 
which,  doubtless,  entitled  him  to  respect.  But  he  was 
peculiarly  fortunate  in  being  recorded  by  Johnson  ; 
who,  of  the  narrow  life  of  a  printer  and  publisher,  with- 
out anv  digressions  or  adventitious  circumstances,  has 
made  an  interesting  and  agreeable  narrative. 

The  Dictionary,  we  may  believe,  afforded  Johnson 
full  occupation  this  year.  As  it  approached  to  its  con- 
clusion, he  probably  worked  with  redoubled  vigour,  as 
seamen  increase  their  exertion  and  alacrity  when  they 
have  a  near  prospect  of  their  haven. 

Lord  Chesterfield,  to  whom  Johnson  had  paid  the 
high  compliment  of  addressing  to  his  Lordship  the  Plan 
of  his  Dictionary,  had  behaved  to  him  in  such  a  manner 
as  to  excite  his  contempt  and  indignation.  The  world 
has  been  for  many  years  amused  with  a  story  confi- 

2  [Two  of  Johnson's  Letters,  addressed  to  Samuel  Richardson,  author  of  Clar- 
issa, &c.  the  former  dated  March  9,  1750-1,  the  other  September  26,  1753,  are 
preserved  in  Richardson's  Correspondence,  8vo.  1804,  vol.  v.  pp.  281 — 284.  In 
the  latter  of  these  letters  Johnson  suggested  to  Richardson,  the  propriety  of  mak- 
ing an  Index  to  his  three  works  :  "  but  while  I  am  writing,  (he  adds)  an  objec- 
tion arises  ;  such  an  index  to  the  three  would  look  like  the  preclusion  of  a  fourth, 
to  which  I  will  never  contribute  ;  for  if  I  cannot  benefit  mankind,  I  hope  never  to 
injure  them."  Richardson,  however,  adopted  the  hint  ;  for  in  1755  he  published 
in  octavo,  "  A  Collection  of  the  Moral  and  Instructive  Sentiments,  Maxims,  Cau- 
tions and  Reflections,  contained  in  the  Histories  of  Pamela,  Clarissa,  and  Sir  Charles 
Grandison,  digested  under  proper  heads. 

It  is  remarkable,  that  both  to  this  book,  and  to  the  first  two  volumes  of  Clarissa, 
is  prefixed  a  Preface,  by  a  friend.  The  "friend,"  in  this  latter  instance,  was  tho 
celebrated  Dr.  Warburton.     M.] 

vol.  i.  26 

202  THE    LIFE    OF 

1754.  dently  told,  and  as  confidently  repeated  with  additional 
JEut.  circumstances,  that  a  sudden  disgust  was  taken  by 
45.  Johnson  upon  occasion  of  his  having  been  one  day 
kept  long  in  waiting  in  his  Lordship's  antechamber,  for 
which  the  reason  assigned  was,  that  he  had  company 
with  him  ;  and  that  at  last,  when  the  door  opened,  out 
walked  Colley  Cibber ;  and  that  Johnson  was  so  vio- 
lently provoked  when  he  found  for  whom  he  had  been 
so  long  excluded,  that  he  went  away  in  a  passion,  and 
never  would  return.  I  remember  having  mentioned 
this  storv  to  Geome  Lord  Lyttelton,  who  told  me,  he 
was  very  intimate  with  Lord  Chesterfield  ;  and  holding- 
it  as  a  well-known  truth,  defended  Lord  Chesterfield 
by  saying,  that  "  Cibber,  who  had  been  introduced  fa- 
miliarly by  the  back-stairs,  had  probably  not  been  there 
above  ten  minutes."  It  mav  seem  strange  even  to  en- 
tertain  a  doubt  concerning  a  story  so  long  and  so  widely 
current,  and  thus  implicitly  adopted,  if  not  sanctioned, 
by  the  authority  which  1  have  mentioned  ;  but  Johnson 
himself  assured  me,  that  there  was  not  the  least  found- 
ation for  it.  He  told  me,  that  there  never  was  anv 
particular  incident  which  produced  a  quarrel  between 
Lord  Chesterfield  and  him ;  but  that  his  Lordship's 
continued  neglect  was  the  reason  whv  he  resolved  to 
have  no  connection  with  him.  When  the  Dictionary 
was  upon  the  eve  of  publication,  Lord  Chesterfield, 
who,  it  is  said,  had  flattered  himself  with  expectations 
that  Johnson  would  dedicate  the  work  to  him,  attempt- 
ed, in  a  courtly  manner,  to  soothe  and  insinuate  him- 
self with  the  Sage,  conscious,  as  it  should  seem,  of  the 
cold  indifference  with  which  he  had  treated  its  learned 
authour  ;  and  further  attempted  to  conciliate  him,  by 
writing  two  papers  in  "  The  World,"  in  recommenda- 
tion of  the  work  ;  and  it  must  be  confessed,  that  they 
contain  some  studied  compliments,  so  finely  turned, 
that  if  there  had  been  no  previous  offence,  it  is  proba- 
ble that  Johnson  would  have  been  highly  delighted. 
Praise,  in  general,  was  pleasing  to  him  ;  but  by  praise 
from  a  man  of  rank  and  elegant  accomplishments,  he 
was  peculiarly  gratified. 

DR.    JOHNSON".  20:3 

His  Lordship  says,   "  I  think  the  publick  in  general.  1754. 
and  the  republick  of  letters   in   particular,  are  greatly  JJ££ 
obliged   to   Mr.  Johnson,  for  having    undertaken,  and    45. 
executed  so  great  and  desirable  a  work.     Perfection  is 
not  to  be  expected  from  man  ;  but  if  we  are  to'judge 
by  the  various  works  of  Johnson  already  published,  we 
have  good  reason  to  believe,  that  he  will  bring  this  as 
near  to  perfection  as  any  man  could  do.     The   Plan  of 
it,  which  he  published  some  years  ago,  seems  to  me  to 
be  a  proof  of  it.     Nothing  can  be  more  rationally  im- 
agined, or  more  accurately  and  elegantly  expressed.     I 
therefore  recommend  the  previous  perusal  of  it  to  all 
those  who  intend  to  buv  the  Dictionary,  and  who,  I 

suppose,  are  all  those  who  can  afford  it." 


"  It  must  be  owned,  that  our  language  is,  at  present, 
in  a  state  of  anarchy,  and  hitherto,  perhaps,  it  may  not 
have  been  the  worse  for  it.  During  our  free  and  open 
trade,  many  words  and  expressions  have  been  import- 
ed, adopted,  and  naturalized  from  other  languages, 
which  have  oTeatlv  enriched  our  own.  Let  it  still 
preserve  what  real  strength  and  beauty  it  may  have 
borrowed  from  others  ;  but  let  it  not,  like  the  Tarpeian 
maid,  be  overwhelmed  and  crushed  by  unnecessary  or- 
naments. The  time  for  discrimination  seems  to  be 
now  come.  Toleration,  adoption,  and  naturalization 
have  run  their  lengths.  Good  order  and  authority  are 
now  necessary.  But  where  shall  we  find  them,  and,  at 
the  same  time,  the  obedience  due  to  them  I  We  must 
have  recourse  to  the  old  Roman  expedient  in  times  of 
confusion,  and  chuse  a  dictator.  Upon  this  principle. 
I  give  my  vote  for  Mr.  -Johnson  to  fill  that  great  and 
arduous  post.  And  I  hereby  declare,  that  1  make  a 
total  surrender  of  all  my  rights  and  privileges  in  the 
English  language,  as  a  free-born  British  subject,  to  the 
said  Mr.  Johnson,  during  the  term  of  his  dictatorship. 
Nay  more,  I  will  not  only  obey  him  like  an  old  Roman, 
as  my  dictator,  but,  like  a  modern  Roman,  I  will  im- 
plicitly believe  in  him  as  my  Pope,  and  hold  him  to  be 
infallible  while  in  the  chair,  but  no  longer.  More  than 
this  he  cannot  well  require ;  for,  1  presume,  that  obe- 

204  THE    LIFE    OF 

1754.  dience  can  never  be  expected,  when  there  is  neither 

jjT,^  terrour  to  enforce,  nor  interest  to  invite  it." 

/_'  ******** 


':  But  a  Grammar,  a  Dictionary,  and  a  History  of 
our  Language  through  its  several  stages,  were  still 
wanting  at  home,  and  importunately  called  for  from 
abroad.  Mr.  Johnson's  labours  will  now,  I  dare  say, 
ver\  fullv  supply  that  want,  and  greatlv  contribute  to 
the  farther  spreading  of  our  language  in  other  countries. 
Learners  were  discouraged,  by  finding  no  standard  to 
resort  to  ;  and,  consequently,  thought  it  incapable  of 
anv.     Thev  will  now  be  undeceived  and  encouraged." 

This  courtly  device  failed  of  its  effect.  Johnson, 
who  thought  that  "  all  was  false  and  hollow,"  despised 
the  honeyed  words,  and  was  even  indignant  that  Lord 
Chesterfield  should,  for  a  moment,  imagine,  that  he 
could  be  the  dupe  of  such  an  artifice.  His  expression 
to  me  concerning  Lord  Chesterfield,  upon  this  occasion, 
was,  "  Sir,  after  making  great  professions,  he  had,  for 
many  years,  taken  no  notice  of  me  ;  but  when  my 
Dictionary  was  coming  out,  he  fell  a  scribbling  in  '  The 
World5  about  it.  Upon  which  1  wrote  him  a  letter  ex- 
pressed in  civil  terms,  but  such  as  might  shew  him 
that  I  did  not  mind  what  he  said  or  wrote,  and  that  I 
had  clone  with  him." 

This  is  that  celebrated  letter  of  which  so  much  has 
been  said,  and  about  which  curiosity  has  been  so  long- 
excited,  without  being  gratified.  1  for  many  years  so- 
licited Johnson  to  favour  me  with  a  copy  of  it,  that  so 
excellent  a  composition  might  not  be  lost  to  posterity. 
He  delayed  from  time  to  time  to  give  it  me  ;3  till  at 
last  in  1781,  when  we  were  on  a  visit  at  Mr.  Dilly's,  at 
Southill  in  Bedfordshire,  he  was  pleased  to  dictate  it 
to  me  from  memory.     He  afterwards  found  among  his 

3  Dr.  Johnson  appeared  to  have  had  a  remarkable  delicacy  with  respect  to  the 
circulation  of  this  letter  ;  for  Dr.  Douglas,  Bishop  of  Salisbury,  informs  me  that 
having  many  years  ago  pressed  him  to  be  allowed  to  read  it  to  the  second  Lord 
Hardwicke,  who  was  very  desirous  to  hear  it  (promising  at  the.  same  time,  that  no 
copy  of  it  should  be  taken)  Johnson  seemed  much  pleased  that  it  had  attracted 
the  attention  of  a  nobleman  of  such  a  respectable  character  ;  but  after  pausing 
?ome  time,  declined  to  comply  with  the  request,  saying,  with  a  smile,  "  No,  Sir  ;  I 
have  hurt  the  dog  too  much  already  ;"  or  words  to  that  purpose. 

DK.    JOHNSON.  20 J 


papers  a  copy  of  it,  which  he  had  dictated  to  Mr.  Ba-  1754. 
retti,  with  its  title  and  corrections,  in   his  own  hand-  ^T^ 
writing.      This  he  gave   to  Mr.  Langton  ;  adding  that   45. 
it'  it  were  to  come  into  print,   he  wished  it  to  be  from 
that  copy.     J>y  Mr.  Langton's  kindness,  1  am  enabled 
to  enrich  my  work  with  a  perfect  transcript  of  what  the 
world  has  so  eagerly  desired  to  see. 

"  TO    THE    RIGHT    HONOURABLE    THE    EARL    OF    CHES- 

"my  lord,  February  7,  17*55. 

"I  have  been  lately  informed,  by  the  proprietor 
of  the  World,  that  two  papers,  in  which  my  Dictionary 
is  recommended  to  the  publick,  were  written  by  your 
Lordship.  To  be  so  distinguished,  is  an  honour,  which, 
being  very  little  accustomed  to  favours  from  the  great, 
I  know  not  well  how  to  receive,  or  in  what  terms  to 

"  When,  upon  some  slight  encouragement,  I  first 
visited  your  Lordship,  I  was  overpowered,  like  the  rest 
of  mankind,  by  the  enchantment  of  your  address,  and 
could  not  forbear  to  wish  that  I  nwht  boast  myself  Le 
vainqueur  du  vainqueur  de  la  terre ; — that  I  might  ob- 
tain that  regard  for  which  I  saw  the  world  contending ; 
but  1  found  my  attendance  so  little  encouraged,  that 
neither  pride  nor  modesty  would  suffer  me  to  continue 
it.  When  I  had  once  addressed  your  Lordship  in 
publick,  I  had  exhausted  all  the  art  of  pleasing  which 
a  retired  and  uncourtiy  scholar  can  possess.  I  had  done 
all  that  1  could  ;  and  no  man  is  well  pleased  to  have 
his  all  neglected,  be  it  ever  so  little. 

"  Seven  years,  my  Lord,  have  now  past,  since  I 
waited  in  your  outward  rooms,  or  was  repulsed  from 
your  door  ;  during  which  time  I  have  been  pushing  on 
my  work  through  difficulties,  of  which  it  is  useless  to 
complain,  and  have  brought  it,  at  last,  to  the  verge  oi 
publication,  without  one  act  of  assistance,*  one  word  oi 

4  The  following  note  is  subjoined  by  Mr.  Langton.  "  Dr.  Johnson,  when  he 
gave  me  this  copy  of  his  letter,  desired  that  I  would  annex  to  it  his  information 
to  me,  that  whereas  it  is  said  in  the  letter  that  '  no  assistance  has  been  received,' 
he  did  once  receive  from  Lord  Chesterfield  the  sum  of  ten  pounds,  but  as  that  was 
so  inconsiderable  a  sum,  he  thought  the  mention  of  it  could  not  properly  find  a 
place  in  a  letter  of  the  kind  that  this  was." 

206  THE    LIFE    OF 

1754.  encouragement,  or  one  smile  of  favour.     Such  treat- 
jE^  ment  I  did  not  expect,  for  I  never  had  a  Patron  before. 
45.        "  The  shepherd  in   Virgil  grew  at  last  acquainted 
with  Love,  and  found  him  a  native  of  the  rocks. 

"  Is  not  a  Patron,  my  Lord,  one  who  looks  with  un- 
concern on  a  man  struggling  for  life  in  the  water,  and, 
when  he  has  reached  ground,  encumbers  him  with 
help  ?  The  notice  which  you  have  been  pleased  to  take 
of  my  labours,  had  it  been  early,  had  been  kind  ;  but 
it  has  been  delayed  till  I  am  indifferent,  and  cannot  en- 
joy it  ;  till  I  am  solitary,  and  cannot  impart  it  ;5  till  I 
am  known,  and  do  not  want  it.  I  hope  it  is  no  very 
cynical  asperity  not  to  confess  obligations  where  no 
benefit  has  been  received,  or  to  be  unwilling  that  the 
Publick  should  consider  me  as  owing  that  to  a  Patron, 
which  Providence  has  enabled  me  to  do  for  mvself. 

"  Having  carried  on  my  work  thus  far  with  so  little 
obligation  to  any  favourer  of  learning,  I  shall  not  be 
disappointed  though  I  should  conclude  it,  if  less  be 
possible,  with  less  ;  for  I  have  been  long  wakened  from 
that  dream  of  hope,  in  which  I  once  boasted  myself 
with  so  much  exultation, 

"  My  Lord, 
^  Your  Lordship's  most  humble, 
"  Most  obedient  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson."6 

"  While  this  was  the  talk  of  the  town,  (says  Dr.  Ad- 
ams, in  a  letter  to  me)  I  happened  to  visit  Dr.  War- 
burton,  who  finding  that  I  was  acquainted  with  John- 

In    this   passage  Dr.   Johnson  evidently  alludes    to  the  loss  of  his  wife.     We> 
iind  the  same  tender  recollection  recurring  to  his  mind  upon  innumerable  occasions; 
and,  perhaps  no  man  ever  more  forcibly  felt  the  truth  of  the  sentiment  so  elegant- 
ly expressed  by  my  friend  Mr.  Malone,  in  liis  Prologue  to  Mr.  Jephson's  tragedy 
of  Julia  : 

"  Vain — wealth,  and  fame,  and  fortune's  fostering  care, 

"  If  no  fond  breast  the  splendid  blessings  share  ; 

"  And,  each  day's  bustling  pageantry  once  past, 

"  There,  only  there,  our  bliss  is  found  at  last." 

h  Upon  comparing  this  copy  with  that  which  Dr.  Johnson  dictated  to  me  from 
recollection,  the  variations  are  found  to  be  so  slight,  that  this  must  be  added  to  the 
many  other  proofs  which  he  gave  of  the  wonderful  extent  and  accuracy  of  his 
memory.  To  gratify  the  curious  in  composition,  1  have  deposited  both  the  copies 
in  the  British  Museum. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  L20'( 

■son,  desired  me  earnestly  to  carry  his  compliments  to  1754. 
him,  and  to  tell   him,  that   he   honoured   him  for  his  JT^ 
manly  behaviour   in  rejecting  these  condescensions  of  45. 
Lord   Chesterfield,  and  tor  resenting  the  treatment  he 
had  received  from  him  with  a  proper  spirit.     Johnson 
was  visibly  pleased  with  this  compliment,  for  he  had  al- 
ways  a  high  opinion  of  YVarburton." 7      Indeed,  the  force 
of  mind  which  appeared  in   this  letter,  was  congenial 
with  that  which  Warburton  himself  amply  possessed. 

There  is  a  curious  minute  circumstance  Avhich  struck 
me,  in  comparing  the  various  editions  of  Johnson's  Imi- 
tations of  Juvenal.  In  the  tenth  Satire  one  of  the  coup- 
lets upon  the  vanity  of  wishes  even  for  literary  distinc- 
tion stood  thus: 

"  Yet  think  what  ills  the  scholar's  life  assail, 
"  Toil,  envy,  want,  the  garret,  and  the  jail." 

But  after  experiencing  the  uneasiness  which  Lord 
Chesterfield's  fallacious  patronage  made  him  feel,  he 
dismissed  the  word  garret  from  the  sad  group,  and  in 
all  the  subsequent  editions  the  line  stands 

"  Toil,  envy,  want,  the  Patron,  and  the  jail." 

That  Lord  Chesterfield  must  have  been  mortified  by 
the  lofty  contempt,  and  polite,  yet  keen,  satire  with 
which  Johnson  exhibited  him  to  himself  in  this  letter, 
it  is  impossible  to  doubt.  He,  however,  with  that  glossy 
duplicity  which  was  his  constant  study,  aflected  to  be 
quite  unconcerned.  Dr.  Adams  mentioned  to  Mr.  Rob- 
ert Dodsley  that  he  was  sorry  Johnson  had  written  his 
letter  to  Lord  Chesterfield.  Dodslev,  with  the  true  feel- 
mgs  of  trade,  said  "  he  was  very  sorry  too  ;  for  that  he 
had  a  property  in  the  Dictionary,  to  which  his  Lord- 
ship's patronage  might  have  been  of  consequence."    He 

7  Soon  after  Edwards's  "  Canons  of  Criticism"  came  out,  Johnson  was  dining  a; 
Tonson  the  Bookseller's,  with  Hayman  the  Painter  and  some  more  company.  Hay- 
man  related  to  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  that  the  conversation  having  turned  upon  Ed- 
wards's book,  the  gentlemen  praised  it  much,  and  Johnson  allowed  its  merit.  Bu: 
when  they  went  farther,  and  appeared  to  put  that  authour  upon  a  level  with  War- 
burton,  "  Nay,  (said  Johnson,)  he  has  given  him  some  smart  hits  to  be  sure  ;  but 
there  is  no  proportion  between  the  two  men  ;  they  must  not  be  named  together. 
A  fly,  Sir,  may  sting  a  stately  horse  and  make  him  wince  ;  but  one  is  but  an  in, 
and  the  other  is  a  horse  still." 

208  THE    LIFE    OF 

1754.  then  told  Dr.  Adams,  that  Lord  Chesterfield  had  shewn 
jjj^  him  the  letter.  "  1  should  have  imagined  (replied  Dr. 
45.  Adams)  that  Lord  Chesterfield  would  have  concealed 
it."  "  Poh  !  (said  Dodsley)  do  you  think  a  letter  from 
Johnson  could  hurt  Lord  Chesterfield  ?  Not  at  all,  Sir. 
It  lay  upon  his  table,  where  any  body  might  see  it. 
He  read  it  to  me  ;  said,  '  this  man  has  great  powers,* 
pointed  out  the  severest  passages,  and  observed  how 
well  they  were  expressed."  This  air  of  indifference., 
which  imposed  upon  the  worthy  Dodsley,  was  certainly 
nothing  but  a  specimen  of  that  dissimulation  which 
Lord  Chesterfield  inculcated  as  one  of  the  most  essen- 
tial lessons  for  the  conduct  of  life.  His  Lordship  en- 
deavoured to  justify  himself  to  Dodsley  from  the  charg- 
es brought  against  him  by  Johnson  ;  but  we  may  judge 
of  the  flimsiness  of  his  defence,  from  his  having  excus- 
ed his  neglect  of  Johnson,  by  saying,  that  "  he  had 
heard  he  had  changed  his  lodgings,  and  did  not  know 
where  he  lived  ;"  as  if  there  could  have  been  the  small- 
est difficulty  to  inform  himself  of  that  circumstance,  by 
enquiring  in  the  literary  circle  with  which  his  Lordship 
was  well  acquainted,  and  was,  indeed,  himself,  one  of 
its  ornaments. 

Dr.  Adams  expostulated  with  Johnson,  and  suggest- 
ed, that  his  not  being  admitted  when  he  called  on  him, 
was  probably  not  to  be  imputed  to  Lord  Chesterfield  ; 
for  his  Lordship  had  declared  to  Dodsley,  that  "  he 
would  have  turned  off  the  best  servant  he  ever  had,  if 
he  had  known  that  he  denied  him  to  a  man  who  would 
have  been  always  more  than  welcome  ;"  and  in  con- 
firmation of  this,  he  insisted  on  Lord  Chesterfield's  gen- 
eral affability  and  easiness  of  access,  especially  to  lite- 
rary men.  "  Sir,  (said  Johnson)  that  is  not  Lord  Ches- 
terfield ;  he  is  the  proudest  man  this  day  existing." 
"  No,  (said  Dr.  Adams)  there  is  one  person,  at  least, 
as  proud  ;  I  think,  by  your  own  account  you  are  the 
prouder  man  of  the  two."  "  But  mine  (replied  John- 
son instantly)  was  defensive  pride."  This,  as  Dr.  Ad- 
ams well  observed,  was  one  of  those  happy  turns  for 
which  he  was  so  remarkably  ready. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  209 

Johnson  having  now  explicitly  avowed  his  opinion  of  1754. 
Lord  Chesterfield,  did  not  refrain  from  expressing  him  ^ut> 
self  concerning  that  nobleman   with  pointed  freedom  :    45. 

"  I  'his  man  (said  he)  1  thought  had  been  a  Lord  among 
wits;  but,  I  find,  he  is  only  a  wit  among  Lords  !"8 
And  when  his  Letters  to  his  natural  son  were  publish- 
ed, he  observed,  that  "  they  teach  the  morals  of  a  whore, 
and  the  manners  of  a  dancing-master."9 

The  character  of  a  "  respectable  Hottentot,"  in  Lord 
Chesterfield's  letters,  has  been  generally  understood  to 
be  meant  for  Johnson,  and  I  have  no  doubt  that  it  was. 
But  I  remember  when  the  Literary  Property  of  those 
letters  was  contested  in  the  Court  of  Session  in  Scot- 
land, and  Mr.  Henry  Dundas,"  one  of  the  counsel  for 
the  proprietors,  read  this  character  as  an  exhibition  of 
Johnson,  Sir  David  Dalrymple,  Lord  Hailes,  one  of  the 
Judges,  maintained,  with  some  warmth,  that  it  was  not 
intended  as  a  portrait  of  Johnson,  but  of  a  late  noble 
Lord,  distinguished  for  abstruse  science.  1  have  heard 
Johnson  himself  talk  of  the  character,  and  say  that  it 
was  meant  for  George  Lord  Lyttelton,  in  which  I  could 
by  no  means  agree  ;  for  his  Lordship  had  nothing  of 
that  violence   which  is  a  conspicuous  feature  in  the 

8  [Johnson's  character  of  Chesterfield  seems  to  be  imitated  from — inter  doctos  no- 
hilissimus,  inter  nobilts  docthsimus,  inter  utrosque  optimus  ;  (ex  Apuleio.  V.  Erasm. — Ded- 
ication of  Adagies  to  Lord  Mountjoy  ;)  and  from  iJWds  ev  fixer.  ;.<>-,  <pi\aaro<{x>i  sv 
iJWaif.     Proclus  de  Critia.     K.j 

9  That  collection  of  letters  cannot  be  vindicated  from  the  serious  charge,  of  en- 
couraging, in  some  passages,  one  of  the  vices  most  destructive  to  the  good  order 
and  comfort  of  society,  which  his  Lordship  represents  as  mere  fashionably  gallant- 
ry ;  and,  in  others,  of  inculcating  the  base  practice  of  dissimulation,  and  recom- 
mending, with  disproportionate  anxiety,  a  perpetual  attention  to  external  elegance 
of  manners.  But  it  must,  at  the  same  time,  be  allowed,  that  they  contain  many 
good  precepts  of  conduct,  and  much  genuine  information  upon  life  and  manners, 
very  happily  expressed  ;  and  that  there  was  considerable  merit  in  paying  so  much 
attention  to  the  improvement  of  one  who  was  dependent  upon  his  Lordship's  pro- 
tection ;  it  has,  probably,  been  exceeded  in  no  instance  by  the  most  exemplary  pa- 
rent ;  and  though  I  can  by  no  means  approve  of  confounding  the  distinction  be- 
tween lawful  and  illicit  offspring,  which  is,  in  effect,  insulting  the  civil  establish- 
ment of  our  country,  to  look  no  higher  ;  I  cannot  help  thinking  it  laudable  to  be 
kindly  attentive  to  those,  of  whose  existence  we  have,  in  any  way,  been  the  cause. 
Mr.  Stanhope's  character  has  been  unjustly  represented  as  diametrically  opposite 
to  what  Lord  Chesterfield  wished  him  to  be.  He  has  been  called  dull,  gross,  and 
aukward  :  but  I  knew  him  at  Dresden,  when  he  was  Envoy  to  that  court ;  and 
though  he  could  not  boast  of  thegraccs,  he  was,  in  truth,  a  sensible,  civil,  well-be- 
haved man. 

1  Now  [1792]  one  of  his  Majesty's  principal  Secretaries  of  State. 

VOL.    T.  2/ 

210  THE    LIFE    OF 

1754.  composition.     Finding  that  my  illustrious  friend  could 
jeJ^  bear  to  have  it  supposed  that  it  might  be  meant  for  him, 
45.  '  I  said,   laughingly,  that  there  was  one  trait  which  un- 
questionably did  not   belong  to  him  ;  "  he  throws  his 
meat  any  where  but  down  his  throat."     "  Sir,  (said  he,) 
Lord  Chesterfield  never  saw  me  eat  in  his  life." 

On  the  6th  of  March  came  out  Lord  Bolingbroke's 
works,  published  by  Mr.  David  Mallet.  The  wild  and 
pernicious  ravings,  under  the  name  of  "  Philosophy," 
which  were  thus  ushered  into  the  world,  gave  great  of- 
fence to  all  well-principled  men.  Johnson,  hearing  of 
their  tendency,  which  nobody  disputed,  was  roused 
with  a  just  indignation,  and  pronounced  this  memora- 
ble sentence  upon  the  noble  authour  and  his  editor. 
*'  Sir,  he  was  a  scoundrel,  and  a  coward  :  a  scoundrel 
for  charging  a  blunderbuss  against  religion  and  moral- 
ity ;  a  coward,  because  he  had  no  resolution  to  fire  it 
otf  himself,  but  left  half  a  crown  to  a  beggarly  Scotch- 
man, to  draw  the  trigger  after  his  death  !"  Garrick, 
who  I  can  attest  from  my  own  knowledge,  had  his  mind 
seasoned  with  pious  reverence,  and  sincerely  disapprov- 
ed of  the  infidel  writings  of  several,  whom  in  the  course 
of  his  almost  universal  gay  intercourse  with  men  of 
eminence,  he  treated  with  external  civility,  distinguish- 
ed himself  upon  this  occasion.  Mr.  Pel  ham  having 
died  on  the  very  day  on  which  Lord  Bolingbroke's 
works  came  out,  he  wrote  an  elegant  Ode  on  his  death, 

"  Let  others  hail  the  rising  sun, 

"  1  bow  to  that  whose  course  is  run." 

in  which  is  the  following  stanza  : 

"  The  same  sad  morn,  to  Church  and  State 
44  (So  for  our  sins  'twas  fix'd  by  fate,) 

"  A  double  stroke  was  given  ; 
"  Black  as  the  whirlwinds  of  the  North, 
"  St.  John's  fell  genius  issued  forth, 

"  And  Pelham  fled  to  heaven." 

Johnson  this  year  found  an   interval  of  leisure  to 
make  an  excursion  to  Oxford,  for  the  purpose  of  con- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  2\  1 

suiting  the  libraries  there.     Of  this,  and  of  many  inter-  1754. 
esting  circumstances  concerning  him,  during  a  part  of  ^t - 
his  life  when  he  conversed  hut  little  with  the  world,  I  am    4.5, 
enabled  to  give  a  particular  account,  by  the  liberal  com- 
munications of  the  Reverend  Mr.  Thomas  Warton,  who 
obligingly   furnished  me  with  several  of  our  common 
friend's  letters,  which  he  illustrated  with  notes.     These 
I  shall  insert  in  their  proper  places. 

"    SIR, 

"  It  is  but  an  ill  return  for  the  book  with  which 
you  were  pleased  to  favour  me,'  to  have  delayed  my 
thanks  for  it  till  now.  I  am  too  apt  to  be  negligent  ; 
but  1  can  never  deliberately  shew  my  disrespect  to  a 
man  of  your  character  :  and  I  now  pay  you  a  very  hon- 
est acknowledgement,  for  the  advancement  of  the  litera- 
ture of  our  native  country.  You  have  shewn  to  all, 
who  shall  hereafter  attempt  the  study  of  our  ancient 
authours,  the  way  to  success  ;  by  directing  them  to  the 
perusal  of  the  books  which  those  authours  had  read. 
Of  this  method,  Hughes,1  and  men  much  greater  than 
Hughes,  seem  never  to  have  thought.  The  reason 
why  the  authours,  which  are  yet  read,  of  the  sixteenth 
century,  are  so  little  understood,  is,  that  they  are  read 
alone  ;  and  no  help  is  borrowed  from  those  who  lived 
with  them,  or  before  them.  Some  part  of  this  igno- 
rance 1  hope  to  remove  by  my  book,3  which  now  draws 
towards  it  end  :  but  which  1  cannot  finish  tomv  mind, 
without  visiting  the  libraries  of  Oxford,  which  1  there- 
fore hope  to  see  in  a  fortnight.4  1  know  not  how  long 
I  shall  stay,  or  where  1  shall  lodge  :  but  shall  be  sure 
to  look  for  you  at  mv  arrival,  and  we  shall  easilv  settle 
the  rest.     I  am,  dear  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obedient,  &c. 
[London]  July  16,  1754.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 


'  "  Observations  on  Spencer's  Fail  y  Queen,  the  first  edition  of  which  was  now 

2  "  Hughes  published  an  edition  of  Spencer." 

'  "  His  Dictionary." 

*  "  He  came  to  Oxford  within  a  fortnight,  and  stayed  about  five  weeks.  He 
lodged  at  a  house  called  Kettel-hall,  near  Trinity  College.  But  during  this  visit 
at  Oxford,  he  collected  nothing  in  the  libraries  for  his  Dictionary." 

212  THE    LIFE    OF 

1754.  Of  his  conversation  while  at  Oxford  at  this  time, 
iEtat!  ^r*  ^  arton  preserved  and  communicated  to  me  the 
45.  following  memorial,  which,  though  not  written  with  all 
the  care  and  attention  which  that  learned  and  elegant 
writer  bestowed  on  those  compositions  which  he  in- 
tended for  the  publick  eye,  is  so  happily  expressed  in 
an  easy  style,  that  I  should  injure  it  by  any  alteration  : 
"  When  Johnson  came  to  Oxford  in  1754,  the  long 
vacation  was  beginning,  and  most  people  were  leaving 
the  place.  This  was  the  first  time  of  his  being  there, 
after  quitting  the  University.  The  next  morning  after 
his  arrival  ;  he  wished  to  see  his  old  College,  Pembroke. 
I  went  with  him.  lie  was  highly  pleased  to  find  all 
the  College-servants  which  he  had  left  there  still  re- 
maining, particularly  a  very  old  butler  ;  and  expressed 
great  satisfaction  at  being  recognised  by  them,  and  con- 
versed with  them  familiarly.  He  waited  on  the  master, 
Dr.  liadcliffe,  who  received  him  very  coldly.  Johnson 
at  least  expected,  that  the  master  would  order  a  copy  of 
his  Dictionary,  now  near  publication  ;  but  the  master 
did  not  choose  to  talk  on  the  subject,  never  asked  John- 
son to  dine,  nor  even  to  visit  him,  while  he  stayed  at 
Oxford.  After  we  had  left  the  lodgings,  Johnson  said 
to  me,  '  There  lives  a  man,  who  lives  by  the  revenues  of 
literature,  and  will  not  move  a  finger  to  support  it.  If 
1  come  to  live  at  Oxford,  I  shall  take  up  my  abode  at 
Trinity.3  We  then  called  on  the  Reverend  Mr.  Meeke, 
one  of  the  fellows,  and  of  Johnson's  standing.  Here 
was  a  most  cordial  greeting  on  both  sides.  On  leaving 
him,  Johnson  said,  '  I  used  to  think  Meeke  had  excel- 
lent parts,  when  we  were  boys  together  at  the  college  : 
but,  alas  ! 

'  Lost  in  a  convent's  solitary  gloom  !' — 

'  I  remember,  at  the  classical  lecture  in  the  Hall,  I  could 
not  bear  Meeke's  superiority,  and  1  tried  to  sit  as  far 
from  him  as  1  could,  that  1  might  not  hear  him  con- 

"  As  we  were  leaving  the  College,  he  said,  '  Here  I 
translated  Pope's  Messiah.  Which  do  you  think  is  the 
best  line  in  it  ? — My  own  favourite  is, 

DR.    JOHNSON.  213 

;  Vallis  aromaticas  fundtt  Saronica  nubes*  <2-,^L, 

.  T  jEtat. 

I  told  him,  I  thought  it  a  very  sonorous  hexameter.  1  45. 
did  not  tell  him,  it  was  not  in  the  Virgilian  style.  He 
much  regretted  that  his  first  tutor  was  dead  :  for  whom 
he  seemed  to  retain  the  greatest  regard,  lie  said,  '  I 
once  had  been  a  whole  morning  sliding  in  Christ-Church 
meadows  and  missed  his  lecture  in  logick.  After  din- 
ner he  sent  for  me  to  his  room.  I  expected  a  sharp  re- 
buke for  my  idleness,  and  went  with  a  beating  heart. 
W  hen  we  were  seated,  he  told  me  he  had  sent  for  me 
to  drink  a  glass  of  wine  with  him,  and  to  tell  me,  he 
was  not  angry  with  me  for  missing  his  lecture.  This 
was,  in  fact,  a  most  severe  reprimand.  Some  more  of 
the  boys  were  then  sent  for,  and  we  spent  a  very  pleas- 
ant afternoon/  Besides  Mr.  Meeke,  there  was  only 
one  other  Fellow  of  Pembroke  now  resident :  from  both 
of  whom  Johnson  received  the  greatest  civilities  during 
this  visit,  and  they  pressed  him  very  much  to  have  a 
room  in  the  College. 

"  In  the  course  of  this  visit  (17-5-K)  Johnson  and  I 
walked  three  or  four  times  to  Ellsfield,  a  village  beauti- 
fully situated  about  three  miles  from  Oxford,  to  see 
Mr.  Wise,  Radclivian  librarian,  with  whom  Johnson 
was  much  pleased.  At  this  place,  Mr.  Wise  had  fitted 
up  a  house  and  gardens,  in  a  singular  manner,  but  with 
great  taste.  Here  was  an  excellent  library,  particularly, 
a  valuable  collection  of  books  in  Northern  literature, 
with  which  Johnson  was  often  very  busy.  One  day 
Mr.  Wise  read  to  us  a  dissertation  which  he  was  pre- 
paring for  the  press,  intitled,  "  A  History  and  Chro- 
nology of  the  fabulous  Ages."  Some  old  divinities  of 
Thrace,  related  to  the  Titans,  and  called  the  Cabiri, 
made  a  very  important  part  of  the  theory  of  this  piece  ; 
and  in  conversation  afterwards,  Mr.  Wise  talked  much 
of  his  Cabiri.  As  we  returned  to  Oxford  in  the  eve- 
ning, I  outwalked  Johnson,  and  he  cried  out  Suffiamina. 
a  Latin  word  which  came  from  his  mouth  with  peculiar 
grace,  and  was  as  much  as  to  say,  Put  on  your  drag 
chain.  Before  we  got  home,  1  again  walked  too  fast  for 
him  ;  and  he  now  cried  out,  '  Why,  you  walk  as  if 

314  THE    LIFE    OF 

1754.  you  were  pursued  by  all  the  Cabiri  in  a  body/  In 
JJ^an  evening  we  frequently  took  long  walks  from  Oxford 
45.  into  the  country,  returning  to  supper.  Once,  in  our 
way  home,  we  viewed  the  ruins  of  the  abbies  of  Oseney 
and  Rewley,  near  Oxford.  After  at  least  half  an  hour's 
silence,  Johnson  said,  '  I  viewed  them  with  indigna- 
tion !'  We  had  then  a  long  conversation  on  Gothick 
buildings  ;  and  in  talking  of  the  form  of  old  halls,  he. 
sajc],  '  In  these  halls,  the  fire  place  was  anciently  always 
in  the  middle  of  the  room,  till  the  Whigs  removed  it  on 
one  side/ — About  this  time  there  had  been  an  execu- 
tion of  two  or  three  criminals  at  Oxford  on  a  Monday. 
Soon  afterwards,  one  day  at  dinner,  I  was  saying  to  Mr. 
Swinton,  the  chaplain  of  the  gaol,  and  also  a  frequent 
preacher  before  the  University,  a  learned  man,  but  often 
thoughtless  and  absent,  preached  the  condemnation  ser- 
mon on  repentance,  before  the  convicts,  on  the  prece- 
ding day,  Sunday  ;  and  that  in  the  close  he  told  his 
audience,  that  he  should  give  them  the  remainder  of 
what  he  had  to  say  on  the  subject,  the  next  Lord's  day. 
Upon  which,  one  of  our  company,  a  Doctor  of  Divin- 
ity, and  a  plain  matter-of-fact  man,  by  way  of  offering 
an  apology  for  Mr.  Swinton,  gravely  remarked,  that  he 
had  probably  preached  the  same  sermon  before  the 
University  :  '  Yes,  Sir,  (says  Johnson)  but  the  Uni- 
versity were  not  to  be  handed  the  next  morning. " 

"  1  fors-ot  to  observe  before,  that  when  he  left  Mr. 
Meeke,  (as  I  have  told  above)  he  added,  '  About  the 
same  time  of  life,  Meeke  was  left  behind  at  Oxford  to 
feed  on  a  Fellowship,  and  1  went  to  London  to  get  my 
living  :  now,  Sir,  see  the  difference  of  our  literary  char- 
acters !" 

The  following  letter  was  written  by  Dr.  Johnson  to 
Mr.  Chambers,  of  Lincoln  College,  afterwards  Sir  Rob- 
ert Chambers,  one  of  the  judges  in  India  :6 

"   DEAR  SIR, 

"  The  commission  which  I  delayed  to  trouble  you 
with  at  your  departure,  I  am  now  obliged  to  send  you  ; 

*  Communicated  by  die  Reverend  Mr.  Thomas  Warton3  who  had  the  original. 


DR.    JOHNSON.  216 

and  beg  that  you  will  be  so  kind  as  to  carry  it  to  Mr.  1754. 
Warton,  of  trinity,  to  whom  I  should  have  written  im-  jg£J 
mediately,  but  that  1  know  not  if  he  be  yet  come  back   4.5. 
to  Oxford. 

"  In  the  Catalogue  of  MSS.  of  Gr.  Brit,  see  vol.  I. 
pas;.  IS.  MSS.  Bodl.  Martyrium  xv.  martyrum  sub  Ju- 
liuno.  auctore  Theophylacto. 

"  It  is  desired  that  Mr.  Warton  will  enquire,  and 
send  word,  what  will  be  the  cost  of  transcribing  this 

"  Vol.  II.  p.  32.  Num.  1092.  53.  Coll.  Nov. — Com- 
■menturia  in  Acta  Apostol. — Comment,  in  Septem  Episto- 
las  Catholicas. 

"  He  is  desired  to  tell  what  is  the  age  of  each  of 
these  manuscripts  :  and  what  it  will  cost  to  have  a 
transcript  of  the  two  first  pages  of  each. 

"  If  Mr.  Warton  be  not  in  Oxford,  you  may  trv  if 
you  can  get  it  done  by  any  body  else  ;  or  stay  till  he 
comes  according  to  your  own  convenience.  It  is  for 
an  Italian  literato. 

"  The  answer  is  to  be  directed  to  his  Excellency 
Mr.  Zon,  Venetian  Resident,  Soho-Square. 

"  1  hope,  dear  Sir,  that  you  do  not  regret  the  change 
of  London  for  Oxford.  Mr.  Baretti  is  well,  and  Mi^- 
Williams  ;7  and  we  shall  all  be  glad  to  hear  from  you. 
whenever  you  shall  be  so  kind  as  to  write  to,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  humble  servant, 
"  Nov.  21,  1751.  "  Sam.  Johnson/1 

7  "  I  presume  she  was  a  relation  of  Mr.  Zachariah  Williams,  who  died  in  his 
eighty-third  year,  July  12,  1755.  When  Dr.  Johnson  was  with  me  at  Oxford,  in 
1 755,  he  gave  to  the  Bodleian  Library  a  thin  quarto  of  twenty-one  pages,  a  work 
in  Italian,  with  an  English  translation  on  the  opposite  page.  The  English  title- 
page  is  this  :  "  An  Account  of  an  Attempt  to  ascertain  the  Longitude  at  Sea,  by 
an  exact  Variation  of  the  Magnetical  Needle,  &c.  By  Zachariah  Williams.  Lon- 
don, printed  for  Dodsley,  1755."  The  English  translation,  from  the  strongest  inter- 
nal marks,  is  unquestionably  the  work  of  Johnson.  In  a  blank  leaf,  Johnson  has 
written  the  age,  and  time  of  death,  of  the  author  Z.  Williams,  as  I  have  said  above. 
On  another  blank  leaf,  is  pasted  a  paragraph  from  a  news-paper,  of  the  death  and 
character  of  Williams,  which  is  plainly  written  by  Johnson.  He  was  very  anxious 
about  placing  this  book  in  the  Bodleian  :  and,  for  fear  of  any  omission  or  mistake 
he  entered,  in  the  great  Catalogue,  the  title-page  of  it  with  his  own  hand/' 

[In  this  statement  there  is  a  slight  mistake.  The  English  account,  which  was  writ- 
ten by  Johnson,  was  the  :■.  '  thi  Ftalian  was  a  t  *  '•''»...  done  by  Baretti. 
See  p.  237.     M."> 

216  THE    LIFE    Of 

1754.  The  degree  of  Master  of  Arts,  which,  it  has  been  ob- 
iEtaT  serveQ,>  could  not  be  obtained  for  him  at  an  early  period 
45.  '  of  his  life,  was  now  considered  as  an  honour  of  consid- 
erable importance,  in  order  to  grace  the  title-page  of 
his  Dictionary  ;  and  his  character  in  the  literary  world 
being  by  this  time  deservedly  high,  his  friends  thought 
that,  if  proper  exertions  were  made,  the  University  of 
Oxford  would  pay  him  the  compliment. 

"  DEAR  SIR, 

"  I  am  extremely  obliged  to  you  and  to  Mr.  Wise, 
for  the  uncommon  care  which  you  have  taken  of  my 
interest:8  if  you  can  accomplish  your  kind  design,  I 
shall  certainly  take  me  a  little  habitation  among  you. 

"The  books  which  I  promised  to  Mr.  Wise,9  1  have 
not  been  able  to  procure  :  but  1  shall  send  him  a  Fin- 
nick  Dictionary,  the  only  copy,  perhaps,  in  England, 
which  was  presented  me  by  a  learned  Swede  :  but  I 
keep  it  back,  that  it  may  make  a  set  of  my  own  books 
of  the  new  edition,  with  which  1  shall  accompany  it. 
more  welcome.     You  will  assure  him  of  my  gratitude. 

"  Poor  dear  Collins  !  ■ — Would  a  letter  give  him  any 
pleasure  1  1  have  a  mind  to  write. 

E  "  In  procuring  him  the  degree  of  Master  of  Arts  by  diploma  at  Oxford." 

9  "  Lately  fellow  of  Trinity  College,  and  at  this  time  Radclivian  librarian,  at  Ox- 
ford. He  was  a  man  of  very  considerable  learning,  and  eminently  skilled  in  Ro- 
man and  Anglo-Saxon  antiquities.     He  died  in  1767." 

1  "  Collins  (the  poet)  was  at  this  time  at  Oxford,  on  a  visit  to  Mr.  Warton  ;  but 
labouring  under  the  most  deplorable  languor  of  body,  and  dejection  of  mind." 

[In  a  letter  to  Dr.  Joseph  Warton,  written  some  months  before,  (March  8,  1 754,) 
Dr.  Johnson  thus  speaks  of  Collins  : 

"  But  how  little  can  we  venture  to  exult  in  any  intellectual  powers  or  literary 
attainments,  when  we  consider  the  condition  ot  poor  Collins.  I  knew  him  a  few 
years  ago  full  of  hopes,  and  full  of  projects,  versed  in  many  languages,  high  in  fan- 
cy, and  strong  in  retention.  This  busy  and  forcible  mind  is  now  under  the  gov- 
ernment of  those,  who  lately  could  not  have  been  able  to  comprehend  the  least  and 
most  narrow  of  his  designs.  What  do  you  hear  of  him  ?  are  there  hopes  of  his  recov- 
ery ?  or  is  he  to  pass  the  remainder  of  his  life  in  misery  and  degradation  ?  per- 
haps, with  complete  consciousness  of  his  calamity." 

In  a  subsequent  letter  to  the  same  gentleman,  (Dec.  24,  1754)  he  thus  feel- 
ingly alludes  to  their  unfortunate  friend  : 

"  Poor  dear  Collins  !  Let  me  know  whether  you  think  it  would  give  him  pleas-, 
ure  if  I  should  write  to  him.  I  have  often  been  near  his  state,  and  therefore  have 
it  in  great  commiseration." 

Again, — April  9,  1756  : 

DR.    JOHNSON.  21? 

"  I  am  glad  of  your  hindrance  in  your  Spenserian  1754. 
design,1    yet   1   would   not  have  it  delayed.      Three  j£tat. 
hours  a  day  stolen  from  sleep  and  amusement  will  pro-    4.5. 
dure  it.     Let  a  Servitour*  transcribe  the  quotations, 
and    interleave    them    with  references,    to  save   time. 
This  will  shorten  the  work,  and  lessen  the  fatigue. 

"  Can  1  do  any  thing  to  promoting  the  diploma  ?  I 
would  not  be  wanting  to  co-operate  with  your  kindness; 
of  which,  whatever  be  the  effect,  I  shall  be,  dear  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obliged,  &c. 
**  [London,']  Nov.  28,  17^4.  "  Sam.  Johnson/' 


"   DEAR  SIR, 

I  am  extremely  sensible  of  the  favour  done  me, 
both  by  Mr.  Wise  and  yourself.  The  book3  cannot, 
I  think,  be  printed  in  less  than  six  weeks,  nor  probably 
so  soon  ;  and  I  will  keep  back  the  title-page,  for  such  an 
insertion  as  you  seem  to  promise  me.  Be  pleased  to 
let  me  know  what  money  I  shall  send  you,  for  bearing 
the  expence  of  the  affair  ;  and  I  will  take  care  that  you 
may  have  it  ready  at  your  hand. 

"  I  had  lately  the  favour  of  a  letter  from  your  brother, 
with  some  account  of  poor  Collins,  for  whom  I  am 
much  concerned.  I  have  a  notion,  that  by  very  great 
temperance,  or  more  properly  abstinence,  he  may  yet 

"  There  is  an  old  English  and  Latin  book  of  poems 
by  Barclay,  called  "  The  Ship  of  Fools ;"  at  the   end 

"  What  becomes  of  poor  dear  Collins  ?  I  wrote  him  a  letter  which  he  never 
answered.  I  suppose  writing  is  very  troublesome  to  him.  That  man  is  no  com- 
mon loss.  The  moralists  all  talk  of  the  uncertainty  of  fortune,  and  the  transitori- 
ness  of  beauty  :  but  it  is  yet  more  dreadful  to  consider  that  the  powers  of  the  mind 
are  equally  liable  to  change,  that  understanding  may  make  its  appearance  and  de- 
part, that  it  may  blaze  and  expire." 

See  Biographical  Memoirs  of  the  late  Reverend  Dr.  Joseph  Warton,  by  the  Rev- 
erend John  Wool,  A.  M.  4to.  1806. 

Mr.  Collins,  who  was  the  son  of  a  hatter  at  Chichester,  was  born  December  25, 
1720,  and  was  released  from  the  dismal  state  here  so  pathetically  described,  in 
1756.     M.] 

1  "  Of  publishing  a  volume  of  observations  on  the  best  of  Spencer's  work1;.  It 
was  hindered  by  my  taking  pupils  in  this  College." 

2  "  Young  students  of  the  lowest  rank  at  Oxford  are  so  called." 

3  "  His  Dictionary." 

vol.  i.  28 

218  THE    LIFE    Oi 

1755.  of  which  are  a  number  of  Eglogues ;  so  he  writes  it, 
^EtaT.  from  Egloga,  which  are  probably  the  first  in   our  lan- 
46.    guage.     If  you  cannot  find   the  book,   I   will  get  Mr. 
Dodsley  to  send  it  you. 

"  I  shall  be  extremely  glad  to  hear  from  you  again , 
to  know,  if  the  affair  proceeds.4-  I  have  mentioned  it 
to  none  of  my  friends,  for  fear  of  being  laughed  at  for 
my  disappointment. 

"  You  know  poor  Mr.  Dodsley  has  lost  his  wife  ; 
I  believe  he  is  much  affected.  I  hope  he  will  not  suffer 
so  much  as  I  vet  suffer  for  the  loss  of  mine. 

O'i/ui.    n  \    c'ifAi  ;    Quito,  yzp  7rt7rci/Qa.jUW. 

I  have  ever  since  seemed  to  myself  broken  off  from 
mankind  ;  a  kind  of  solitary  wanderer  in  the  wild  of 
life,  without  any  direction,  or  fixed  point  of  view  :  a 
gloomy  gazer  on  the  world  to  which  1  have  Jittle  rela- 
tion. Yet  I  would  endeavour,  by  the  help  of  you  and 
your  brother,  to  supply  the  want  of  closer  union,  by 
friendship :  and  hope  to  have  long  the  pleasure  of  be- 
ing, dear  Sir, 

"  Most  affectionately  your's, 
"[Loudon,]  Dec.  21,  17*34.  "  Sam.  Johnson 


In  17.35,  we  behold  him  to  great  advantage  ;  his  de- 
gree of  Master  of  Arts  conferred  upon  him,  his  Dic- 
tionary published,  his  correspondence  animated,  his  be- 
nevolence exercised. 



"   DEAR  SIR, 

"  I  wrote  to  you  some  weeks  ago,  but  believe  did 
not  direct  accurately,  and  therefore  know  not  whether 
you  had  my  letter.  1  would,  likewise,  write  to  your 
brother,  but  know  not  where  to  find  him.  I  now  be- 
gin to  see  land,  after  having  wandered,  according  to 
Mr.  Warburtoirs  phrase,  in  this  vast  sea  of  words. 
What  reception  I  shall  meet  with  on  the  shore,  1  know 
not ;  whether  the  sound  of  bells,  and  acclamations  of 

4  "  Of  the  degree  at  Oxford." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  219 

the  people,  which  Ariosto  talks  of  in  his  last  Canto,  or  1755. 
a  general  murmur  of  dislike,    I  know  not :  whether  1  jTt^ 
shall  find  upon  the  coast  a  Calypso  that  will  court,  or  a    4$. 
Polypheme  that  will  resist.     But  if  Polypheme  comes, 
have-  at  his  eve.     I  hope,  however,  the  criticks  will  let 
me  be  at  peace  :  for  though  I  do  not  much  tear  their 
skill  and  strength,  1  am  a  little   afraid    of  myself,  and 
would  not  willingly  feel  so  much  ill-will  in  my  bosom 
as  literary  quarrels  are  apt  to  excite. 

"  Mr.  Baretti  is  about  a  work  for  which  he  is  in 
great  want  of  Crescimbeni,  which  you  may  have  again 
when  you  please. 

"  There  is  nothing  considerable  done  or  doing  among 
us  here.  We  are  not,  perhaps,  as  innocent  as  villagers, 
but  most  of  us  seem  to  be  as  idle.  I  hope,  however, 
you  are  busy  ;  and  should  be  glad  to  know  what  you 
are  doing. 

"  I  am,  dearest  Sir, 

"Your  humble  servant, 
"  [London,]  Feb.  4,  17->J.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

"  DEAR   SIR, 

"  i  received  your  letter  this  day,  with  great 
sense  of  the  favour  that  has  been  done  me  ;s  for  which 
1  return  my  most  sincere  thanks :  and  entreat  you  to 
pay  to  Mr.  Wise  such  returns  as  I  ought  to  make  for 
so  much  kindness  so  little  deserved. 

"  I  sent  Mr.  Wise  the  Lexicon,  and  afterwards  wrote 
to  him  ;  but  know  not  whether  he  had  either  the  book 
or  letter.     Be  so  good  as  to  contrive  to  enquire. 

"  But  why  does  my  dear  Mr.  Warton  tell  me  noth- 
ing of  himself  ?  Where  hangs  the  new  volume?6  Can 
1  help  ?  Let  not  the  past  labour  be  lost,  for  want  of  a 
little  more :  but  snatch  what  time  you  can  from  the 
Hall,  and  the  pupils,  and  the  coffee-house,  and  the 
parks,  and  complete  your  design.  I  am  dear  Sir,  &c. 
"''  [London,]  Feb.  4,  17*3^.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

s  "  His  degree  had  now  past,  according  to  the  usual  form,  the  suffrages  of  the 
heads  of  Colleges  ;  but  was  not  yet  finally  granted  by  the  University.  It  was  car- 
ried without  a  single  dissentient  voice." 

«  "  On  Spenser." 

220  THE    LIFE    OF 

1755.  TO  THE  SAME. 

jEt£        "  DEAR  SIR> 

46.  «  1  had  a  letter  last  week  from  Mr.  Wise,  but 

have  yet  heard  nothing  from  you,  nor  know  in  what 
state  my  affair7  stands;  of  which  1  beg  you  to  inform 
me,  if  you  can,  to-morrow,  by  the  return  of  the  post. 

"  Mr.  Wise  sends  me  word,  that  he  has  not  had  the 
Fennick  Lexicon  yet,  which  1  sent  some  time  ago ; 
and  if  he  has  it  not,  you  must  enquire  after  it.  How- 
ever, do  not  let  your  letter  stay  for  that. 

"  Your  brother,  who  is  a  better  correspondent  than 
you,  and  not  much  better,  sends  me  word,  that  your 
pupils  keep  you  in  College :  but  do  they  keep  you 
from  writing  too  I  Let  them,  at  least,  give  you  time  to 
write  to,  dear  Sir, 

"  Your  most  affectionate,  &c. 
"[London,]  Feb.  13,  17<5o.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 


"  DEAR  SIR, 

"  Dr.  King8  was  with  me  a  few  minutes  before 
your  letter  ;  this,  however,  is  the  first  instance  in  which 
your  kind  intentions  to  me  have  ever  been  frustrated.9 
1  have  now  the  full  effect  of  your  care  and  benevo- 
lence ;  and  am  far  from  thinking  it  a  slight  honour,  or 
a  small  advantage  ;  since  it  will  put  the  enjoyment  of 
your  conversation  more  frequently  in  the  power  of,  dear 

"  Your  most  obliged  and  affectionate, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 
"  P.S.  I  have  enclosed  a  letter  to  the  Vice  Chancel- 
lor,'  which  you  will  read  ;  and,  if  you  like  it,  seal  and 
give  him. 

[u  London,]  Feb.  1755." 

7  "  Of  the  degree." 

*  "  Principal  of  Saint  Mary  Hall  at  Oxford.  He  brought  with  him  the  diplo- 
ma from  Oxford." 

'  "  I  suppose  Johnson  means  that  my  kind  intention  of  being  thefrst  to  give  him 
the  good  news  of  the  degree  being-  granted  wasfmstrated,  because  Dr.  King  brought 
it  before  my  intelligence  arrived." 

1  "  Dr.  Huddesford,  President  of  Trinity  College." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  221 

As  the  Publick  will  doubtless  be  pleased  to  see  the  1755. 
whole  progress  of  this  well-earned  academical  honour,  jT^ 
I  shall  insert  the  Chancellor  of  Oxford's  letter  to  the    46. 
University,*  the  diploma,  and  Johnson's  letter  of  thanks 
to  the  Vice-Chancellor. 

'*  To  the  Reverend  Dr.  Huddesford,  Vice-Chancellor 
of  the  University  of  Oxford  ;  to  be  communicated  to 
the  Heads  of  Houses,  and  proposed  in  Convocation. 


"  Mr.  Samuel  Johnson,  who  was  formerly  of 
Pembroke  College,  having  very  eminently  distinguish- 
ed himself  by  the  publication  of  a  series  of  essays,  ex- 
cellently calculated  to  form  the  manners  of  the  people, 
and  in  which  the  cause  of  religion  and  morality  is 
every  where  maintained  by  the  strongest  powers  of  ar- 
gument and  language  ;  and  who  shortly  intends  to 
publish  a  Dictionary  of  the  English  Tongue  formed  on 
a  new  plan,  and  executed  with  the  greatest  labour  and 
judgement;  I  persuade  myself  that  1  shall  act  agreea- 
ble to  the  sentiments  of  the  whole  University,  in  de- 
siring  that  it  may  be  proposed  in  convocation  to  confer 
on  him  the  degree  of  Master  of  Arts  by  diploma,  to 
which  I  readily  give  my  consent ;  and  am, 

"  Mr.  Vice-Chancellor,  and  Gentlemen, 

"  Your  affectionate  friend  and  servant, 
"  Grosvenor-street,  Feb.  4,  IJoo.  "  Arran." 

Term.  Scti. 

Hiiarii.  «  Diploma  Magistri  Johnson. 


"  CANCELLARIUS,  Magistri  et  Scholares  Uni- 
versitatis  Oxoniensis  omnibus  ad  quos  hoc  presens  scrip- 
turn  pervenerit,  salutem  in  Domino  sempiternam. 

"  Cum  earn  in  fnem  gradus  academici  a  majoribus 
nostris  institnti  fuerint,  ut  viri  ingenio  ct  doctrind  prce- 
stantes  titu/is  quoque  prceter  cceteros  insignirentur ; 
ciimque  vir  doctissimus  Samuel  Johnson  e  Collegio  Pem- 
hrochiensi^  script  is  suis  popularium  mores  informantibus 

2  Extracted  from  the  Convocation-Register,  Oxford. 

222  THE    LIFE    OF 

1755.  dudum  tlieruto  orbi  hinotuerit ;  quin  et  linguae  patriae 
jEtat  tum  ornandce  turn  stabiliendre  (Lexicon  scilicet  Anglica- 
46.    mini  summo  studio,  summo  d  sejudicio  congestum  propedi- 
em  editurus)  etiam  nunc  utilissimam  impended  operant ; 
Nos  igitur  Canccllarius,  Magistri,  et  Scholares  antedic- 
ti,  ne  virion  de  Uteris  humanioribus  optimc  mention  diu- 
tins  inhonoratum  prcctereamus,   in  solenni  Convocations 
Doctor/on,  Magistrorum,  Regentium,  et  non  Regentium  t 
decimo  die  Mensis  Februarii  Anno   Domini  Millesimo 
Septiugentesimo  Quinquagesimo  quinlo  habitd,  prcefatum 
virion   Samuelem  Johnson  (  conspirantibus  omnium  suf- 
frages) Magistrum   in  Artibus  renioiciavimus  et  con- 
stituimus ;  eumque,  virtute  prcesentis  diplomatis,  singu- 
lis juribus  privilegiis  et  honoribus  ad  istum  gradum  quci- 
qiu)  pertineutibus  frui  et  guaderejussimus. 

"  In  cujus  rci  testimonium  sigillum  Universitatis  Ox- 
oniensis  prcesentibus  apponifecimus. 

"  Datum  in   Domo  nostrce   Convocations  die  20° 
Mensis  Feb.  Anno  Dom.  prcedicto. 

*'  Diploma  supra  scriptum  per  Registrarium  iectum 
rrat,  et  ex  decreto  venerabilis  Domus  communi  Univer- 
sitatis sigillo  munition." >z 

Londiui.  4to  Cal.  Mart.  1J55. 

NISSIMO,  S.  P.   D. 


"  INGRATUS  plane  ct  tibi  et  milii  videar,  nisi 
quanto  me  gaudio  afjecerint,  quos  nuper  milii  honores  fte. 
credo,  auctore,)  decrevit  Seuatus  Academicus,  Uterarum, 
quo  tamen  nihil  levins,  officio,  significem  :  ingratus  etiam, 
nisi  comitatem,  qua  vir  eximius$  mihi  vestri  testimonium 
amor  is  in  mantis  tradidit,  agnoscam  et  laudem.  Si  quid 
est,  unde  rei  tarn  gratcv  accedat  gratia,  hoc  ipso  magis 

3  The  original  is  in  my  possession. 

4  [The  superscription  of  this  letter  was  not  quite  correct  in  the  former  editions. 
It  is  here  given  from  Dr.  Johnson's  original  letter,  now  before  me.     M.] 

^  We  may  conceive  what  a  high  gratification  it  must  have  been  to  Johnson  to 
receive  his  diploma  from  the  hands  of  the  great  Dr.  King,  whose  principles 
were  so  congenial  with  his  own. 

dr.  joiixson.  223 

mihi placet^  c/uod  eo  tempore  inordines  Academicos  denub  l7r>5. 
cooptatus  sim,  (juo  tuam  imminuere  auctoritatem,famam-  ^gtati 
que  Oxonii  Icedere,  omnibus  modis  conantur  homines  vafri,    46. 
nee  tumen  acuti  :   quibus  coo.  prout  viro  umbratico  licuit, 
semper  res////,  semper  restiturus.     Qui  enim,  inter  has 
rerum  procellas,  vel  tibi  vel  Academics  defuerit,  ilium 
virtuti  et  Uteris,  sibique  et  pos/er/s,  defuturum  existimo. 



Si   DEAR   SIR, 

"  After  I  received  my  diploma,  I  wrote  you  a 
letter  of  thanks,  with  a  letter  to  the  Vice-Chancellor, 
and  sent  another  to  Mr.  Wise  ;  but  have  heard  from 
nobody  since,  and  begin  to  think  myself  forgotten.  It 
is  true,  1  sent  you  a  double  letter,  and  you  may  fear  an 
expensive  correspondent  ;  but  L  would  have  taken  it 
kindly,  if  you  had  returned  it  treble  :  and  what  is  a 
double  letter  to  a  petty  king,  that  having  fellowship  and 
fines,  can  sleep  without  a  Modus  in  his  head  I6 

"  Dear  Mr.  Warton,  let  me  hear  from  you,  and  tell 
me  something,  I  care  not  what,  so  1  hear  it  but  from 
you.  Something,  1  will  tell  you  : — I  hope  to  see  my 
Dictionary  bound  and  lettered,  next  week  ; — vastd  mole 
superbus.  And  1  have  a  great  mind  to  come  to  Oxford 
at  Easter  ;  but  you  will  not  invite  me.  Shall  1  come 
uninvited,  or  stay  here  where  nobody  perhaps  would 
miss  me  if  1  went  I  A  hard  choice  !  But  such  is  the 
world  to,  dear  Sir, 

••   Yours,  &c. 
*  [London]  March  20,  \7^>5.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

TO  THE    SAM  E. 

"  Though  not  to  write,  when  a  man  can  write  su 
well,  is  an  offence  sufficiently  heinous,  yet  I  shall  pass 
it  by.  I  am  very  glad  that  the  Vice-Chancellor  was 
pleased  with  my  note.  I  shall  impatiently  expect  you 
at  London,  that  we  may  consider  what  to  do  next. 

6 "  The  Words  in  Ita'.ieks  are  allusions  to  passages  in  Mr.  Warton'e  poem,  called 
•*  The  Progress  of  Discontent,'  now  lately  published." 

224>  THE    LIFE    OB 

1755.  intend  in  the  winter  to  open  a  Bibliotheq'ue,  and  re- 
member, that  you  are  to  subscribe  a  sheet  a  year  :  let 
us  try,  likewise,  if  we  cannot  persuade  your  brother  to 
subscribe  another.  My  book  is  now  coming  in  luminis 
oras.  What  will  be  its  fate  1  know  not,  nor  think  much, 
because  thinking  is  to  no  purpose.  It  must  stand  the 
censure  of  the  great  vulgar  and  the  small ;  of  those  that 
understand  it,  and  that  understand  it  not.  But  in  all 
this,  I  surfer  not  alone  ;  every  writer  has  the  same  dif- 
ficulties, and,  perhaps,  every  writer  talks  of  them  more 
than  he  thinks. 

46  You  will  be  pleased  to  make  my  compliments  to 
all  my  friends  ;  and  be  so  kind,  at  every  idle  hour,  as 
to  remember,  dear  Sir, 

"  Yours,  &c. 
16  [London^]  March  2*5,  17-5.5.  "  Sam.  Johnson.7, 

Dr.  Adams  told  me,  that  this  scheme  of  a  Bibliothe- 
que  was  a  serious  one  :  for  upon  his  visiting  him  one 
day,  he  found  his  parlour  floor  covered  with  parcels  of 
foreign  and  English  literary  journals,  and  he  told  Dr. 
Adams  he  meant  to  undertake  a  Review.  "  How,  Sir. 
(said  Dr.  Adams,)  can  you  think  of  doing  it  alone  \  All 
branches  of  knowledge  must  be  considered  in  it.  Do 
you  know  Mathematicks  I  Do  you  know  Natural  His- 
tory !"  Johnson  answered,  "  Why,  Sir,  1  must  do  as 
well  as  I  can.  My  chief  purpose  is  to  give  my  coun- 
trymen a  view  of  what  is  doing  in  literature  upon  the 
continent  ;  and  1  shall  have,  in  a  good  measure,  the 
choice  of  my  subject,  for  1  shall  select  such  books  as  I 
best  understand."  Dr.  Adams  suggested,  that  as  Dr. 
Maty  had  just  then  finished  his  Bibliothequc  Britanni- 
que,  which  was  a  well-executed  work,  giving  foreigners 
an  account  of  British  publications,  he  might,  with  great 
advantage  assume  him  as  an  assistant.  "  He,  (said 
Johnson)  the  little  black  dog  !  I'd  throw  him  into  tin 
Thames."     The  scheme,  however,  wTas  dropped. 

In  one  of  his  little  memorandum-books  1  find  the  fol- 
lowing hints  for  his  intended  Review  or  Literary  Jour- 
nal ;  "  The  Annals  of  Literature,  foreign  as  well  as 
domestic.     Imitate  Le  Clerk — Bayle— Barbeyrac.     In- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  22o 

felicity  of  Journals  in  England.  A\Torks  of  the  learned.  1755. 
We  cannot  take  in  all.  Sometimes  copy  from  foreign  JT^ 
Journalists.     Always  tell."  46. 

"    TO  DR.  BIRCH. 

"  sir,  March  29,  17-55. 

"  1  have  sent  some  parts  of  my  Dictionary,  such 
as  were  at  hand,  for  your  inspection.  The  favour  which 
1  beg  is,  that  if  you  do  not  like  them,  you  will  say  noth- 
ing.    I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  affectionate  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 



"  sir,  Norfolk-street,  April  23,  1755. 

"  The  part  of  your  Dictionary  which  you  have 
favoured  me  with  the  sight  of  has  given  me  such  an  idea 
of  the  whole,  that  I  most  sincerely  congratulate  the  pub- 
lick  upon  the  acquisition  of  a  work  long  wanted,  and 
now  executed  with  an  industry,  accuracy,  and  judge- 
ment, equal  to  the  importance  of  the  subject.  You 
might,  perhaps,  have  chosen  one  in  which  your  genius 
would  have  appeared  to  more  advantage,  but  you  could 
not  have  fixed  upon  any  other  in  which  your  labours 
would  have  done  such  substantial  service  to  the  present 
age  and  to  posterity.  1  am  glad  that  your  health  has 
supported  the  application  necessary  to  the  performance 
of  so  vast  a  task  ;  and  can  undertake  to  promise  you  as 
one  (though  perhaps  the  only)  reward  of  it,  the  approba- 
tion and  thanks  of  every  well-wisher  to  the  honour  of 
the  English  language.     I  am,  with  the  greatest  regard, 

"  Sir, 
"  Your  most  faithful  and 
"  Most  affectionate  humble  servant, 

"  Tho.  Birch." 

Mr.  Charles  Burnev,  who  has  since  distinguished 
himself  so  much  in  the  science  of  Musick,  and  obtained 
a  Doctor's  degree  from  the  University  of  Oxford,  had 
been  driven  from  the  capital  by  bad  health,  and  was  now 
residing  at  Lynne  Regis  in  Norfolk.      He  had  been  so 

vol.  i.  29 

226  THE    LIFE    OF 

1755.  much  delighted  with  Johnson's  Rambler,  and  the  plan 
Ieam  °f  ms  Dictionary,  that  when  the  great  work  wasannounc- 
46.  '  ed  in  the  news-papers  as  nearly  finished,  he  wrote  to 
Dr.  Johnson,  begging  to  be  informed  when  and  in  what 
manner  his  Dictionary  would  be  published  ;  intreating, 
if  it  should  be  by  subscription,  or  he  should  have  any 
books  at  his  own  disposal,  to  be  favoured  with  six 
copies  for  himself  and  friends. 

In  answer  to  this  application,  Dr.  Johnson  wrote  the 
following  letter,  of  which  (to  use  Dr.  Burney's  own 
words)  "  if  it  be  remembered  that  it  was  written  to  an 
obscure  young  man,  who  at  this  time  had  not  much 
distinguished  himself  even  in  his  own  profession,  but 
whose  name  could  never  have  reached  the  authour  of 
The  Rambler,  the  politeness  and  urbanity  may  be 
opposed  to  some  of  the  stories  which  have  been  lately 
circulated  of  Dr.  Johnson's  natural  rudeness  and  fero- 

"    TO  ?,1R.    BURNEY,    IN   LYNNE  REGIS,  NORFOLK. 
"    SIR, 

"If  you  imagine  that  by  delaying  my  answer  I 
intended  to  shew  any  neglect  of  the  notice  with  which 
you  have  favoured  me,  you  will  neither  think  justly  of 
yourself  nor  of  me.  Your  civilities  were  offered  with 
too  much  elegance  not  to  engage  attention  ;  and  I 
have  too  much  pleasure  in  pleasing  men  like  you,  not 
to  feel  very  sensibly  the  distinction  which  you  have 
bes'towed  upon  me. 

"  Few  consequences  of  my  endeavours  to  please  or 
to  benefit  mankind  have  delighted  me  more  than  your 
friendship  thus  voluntarily  offered,  which  now  I  have 
it  1  hope  to  keep,  because  1  hope  to  continue  to  de- 
serve it. 

"  I  have  no  Dictionaries  to  dispose  of  for  myself, 
but  shall  be  glad  to  have  you  direct  your  friends  to 
Mr.  Dodsley,  because  it  was  by  his  recommendation 
that  1  was  employed  in  the  work. 

"  When  you  have  leisure  to  think  again  upon  me 
let  me  be  favoured  with  another  letter  ;  and  another 
yet,   when   you  have  looked  into  my  Dictionary,     if 

DR.    JOHNSON.  227 

you   find  faults,!   shall  endeavour  to  mend  them;  if  1755. 
you  find   none,  I  shall  think  you  blinded  by  kind  par-  jjEtat! 
tiality  :  but  to   have  made  you   partial   in  his  favour,    46. 
will  very  much  gratify  the  ambition  of,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obliged 

;;  And  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 
•'  Gougk-square,  Fleet-street,  April  8,  17-3<3." 

Mr.  Andrew  Millar,  bookseller  in  the  Strand,  took 
the  principal  charge  of  conducting  the  publication  of 
.Johnson's  Dictionary  ;  and  as  the  patience  of  the  pro- 
prietors was  repeatedly  tried  and  almost  exhausted,  by 
their  expecting  that  the  work  would  be  completed 
within  the  time  which  Johnson  had  sanguinely  suppos- 
ed, the  learned  authour  was  often  goaded  to  dispatch, 
more  especially  as  he  had  received  all  the  copy-money, 
by  different  drafts,  a  considerable  time  before  he  had 
finished  his  task.  When  the  messenger  who  cariied 
the  last  sheet  to  Millar  returned,  Johnson  asked  him, 
"  Well,  what  did  he  say  1" — "  Sir,  (answered  the  mes- 
senger) he  said,  thank  God  I  have  done  with  him." 
"  I  am  glad  (replied  Johnson,  with  a  smile,)  that  he 
thanks  God  for  any  thing."7  It  is  remarkable,  that 
those  with  whom  Johnson  chiefly  contracted  for  his 
literary  labours  were  Scotchmen,  Mr.  Millar  and  Mr. 
Strahan.  Millar,  though  himself  no  great  judge  of  lit- 
erature, had  good  sense  enough  to  have  for  his  friends 
very  able  men  to  give  him  their  opinion  and  advice  in 
the  purchase  of  copy-right  ;  the  consequence  of  which 
was  his  acquiring  a  very  large  fortune,  with  great  liber- 
ality. Johnson  said  of  him,  "  I  respect  Millar,  Sir  ; 
he  has  raised  the  price  of  literature."  The  same  praise 
may  be  justly  given  to  Panckoucke,  the  eminent  book- 
seller of  Paris.  Mr.  Strahan's  liberality,  judgement, 
and  success,  are  well  known. 

Sir  John  Hawkins,  p.  341,  inserts  two  notes  as  having  passed  formally  between 
Andrew  Millar  and  Johnson,  to  the  above  effect.  I  am  assured  this  was  not  the 
case,  hi  the  way  of  incidental  remark  it  was  a  pleasant  play  of  raillery.  To  have 
deliberately  written  notes  in  such  terms  would  have  been  morose. 

228  THE    LIFE    OP 

1755.  »    XO    BEN  NET     LANGTON,     ESQ.     AT     LANGTON     NEAR 

46.  '        "    SIR, 

"  It  has  been  long  observed,  that  men  do  not  sus- 
pect faults  which  they  do  not  commit  ;  your  own  ele- 
gance of  manners,  and  punctuality  of  complaisance,  did 
not  surfer  you  to  impute  to  me  that  negligence  of  which 
I  was  guilty,  and  which  1  have  not  since  atoned.  I 
received  both  your  letters,  and  received  them  with 
pleasure  proportionate  to  the  esteem  which  so  short  an 
acquaintance  strongly  impressed,  and  which  I  hope  to 
confirm  by  nearer  knowledge,  though  I  am  afraid  that 
gratification  will  be  for  a  time  withheld. 

I  have,  indeed,  published  my  Book,3  of  which  I  beg 
to  know  your  father's  judgement,  and  yours;  and  1  have 
now  staid  long  enough  to  watch  its  progress  in  the 
world.  It  has,  you  see,  no  patrons,  and,  I  think,  has 
yet  had  no  opponents,  except  the  criticks  of  the  coffee- 
house, whose  outcries  are  soon  dispersed  into  the  air, 
and  are  thought  on  no  more  :  from  this,  therefore,  I 
am  at  liberty,  and  think  of  taking  the  opportunity  of 
this  interval  to  make  an  excursion,  and  why  not  then 
into  Lincolnshire  ?  or,  to  mention  a  stronger  attrac- 
tion, why  not  to  dear  Mr.  Langton  ?  I  will  give  the 
true  reason,  which  I  know  you  will  approve  :— I  have 
a  mother  more  than  eighty  years  old,  who  has  counted 
the  days  to  the  publication  of  my  book,  in  hopes  of  see- 
ing me  ;  and  to  her,  if  I  can  disengage  myself  here,  I 
resolve  to  go. 

"  As  1  know,  dear  Sir,  that  to  delay  my  visit  for  a 
reason  like  this,  will  not  deprive  me  of  your  esteem,  I 
beg  it  may  not  lessen  your  kindness.  I  have  very  sel- 
dom received  an  offer  of  friendship  which  I  so  earnestly 
desire  to  cultivate  and  mature.  I  shall  rejoice  to  hear 
from  you,  till  I  can  see  you,  and  will  see  you  as  soon 
as  1  can  ;  for  when  the  duty  that  calls  me  to  Lichfield 
is  discharged,  my  inclination  will  carry  me  to  Langton. 
I  shall  delight  to  hear  the  ocean  roar,  or  see  the  stars 
twinkle,  in  the  company  of  men  to  whom  Nature  does 
not  spread  her  volumes  or  utter  her  voice  in  vain, 

?  His  Dictionary. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  2^9 

*  Do  not,  dear  Sir,  make  the  slowness  of  this  letter  1755. 
a  precedent  for  delay,  or   imagine  that  I  approved  the  ^t^ 
incivility    that   1   have  committed  ;  for   1  have  known    46. 
you  enough  to  love  you,  and  sincerely  to  wish  a  fur- 
ther knowledge  ;  and  1  assure  you,  once  more,  that  to 

live  in  a  house  that  contains  such  a  father  and  such  a 
son,  will  be  accounted  a  very  uncommon  degree  of 
pleasure,  by,  dear  Sir,  your  most  obliged,  and 

"  Most  humble  servant, 

•  May  6,  175o.  "  Sam.  Johnson, " 

"    DEAR  SIR, 

"  I  am  grieved  that  you  should  think  me  capable 
of  neglecting  your  letters  ;  and  beg  you  will  never  ad- 
mit any  such  suspicion  again.  I  purpose  to  come  down 
next  week,  if  you  shall  be  there  ;  or  any  other  week, 
that  shall  be  more  agreeable  to  you.  Therefore  let  me 
know.  I  can  stay  this  visit  but  a  week,  but  intend  to 
make  preparations  for  a  longer  stay  next  time  ;  being 
resolved  not  to  lose  sight  of  the  University.  How  goes 
Apollonius  \ 9  Don't  let  him  be  forgotten.  Some  things 
of  this  kind  must  be  done,  to  keep  us  up.  Pay  my 
compliments  to  Mr.  Wise,  and  all  my  other  friends.  ! 
think  to  come  to  Kettel-Hall.1 

"  I  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  affectionate,  &c. 
"  [London,"]  May  13,  \755.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

'''    DEAR  SIR, 

"  It  is  strange  how  many  things  will  happen  to 
intercept  every  pleasure,  though  it  [be]  only  that  of 
two  friends  meeting  together.  I  have  promised  myself 
every  day  to  inform  you  when  you  might  expect  me  at 
Oxford,   and   have  not   been  able   to  fix  a  time.     The 

'>  "  A  translation  of  Apollonius  Rhodius  was  now  intended  by  Mr.  Warton.'' 

1  [Kettel-Hall  is  an  ancient  tenement  built  about  the  year  1615,  by  Dr.  Ralpb 
Kettel,  President  of  Trinity  College,  for  the  accommodation  of  Commoners  of  that 
Society.  It  adjoins  the  College  :  and  was  a  few  years  ago  converted  into  a  pri- 
vate house.     M.J 

230  THE    LIFE    OF 

1755.  time,  however,  is,  I  think,  at  last,  come  ;  and  I  promise 
^^  myself  to  repose  in  Kettel-Hall,  one  of  the  first  nights 
46.  '  of  the  next  week.  I  am  afraid  my  stay  with  you  can- 
not be  long  ;  but  what  is  the  inference  ?  We  must 
endeavour  to  make  it  chearful.  1  wish  your  brother 
could  meet  us,  that  we  might  go  and  drink  tea  with 
Mr.  Wise  in  a  body.  1  hope  he  will  be  at  Oxford,  or 
at  his  nest  of  British  and  Saxon  antiquities.1  I  shall 
expect  to  see  Spencer  finished,  and  many  other  things 
begun.  Dodsley  is  gone  to  visit  the  Dutch.  The  Dic- 
tionary sells  well.  The  rest  of  the  world  goes  on  as  it 
did.     Dear  Sir, 

"  Your  most  affectionate,  &c. 
*'  [London,']  June  10,  1J55.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

"    DEAR  SIR, 

"  To  talk  of  coming  to  you,  and  not  yet  to  come, 
has  an  air  of  trifling  which  1  would  not  willingly  have 
among  you  ;  and  which,  1  believe,  you  will  not  will- 
ingly impute  to  me,  when  1  have  told  you,  that  since 
my  promise,  two  of  our  partners3  are  dead,  and  that  I 
was  solicited  to  suspend  my  excursion  till  we  could 
recover  from  our  confusion. 

"  I  have  not  laid  aside  my  purpose  ;  for  every  day 
makes  me  more  impatient  of  staying  from  you.  But 
death,  you  know,  hears  not  supplications,  nor  pays  any 
regard  to  the  convenience  of  mortals.  I  hope  now  to 
see  you  next  week  ;  but  next  week  is  but  another 
name  for  to  morrow,  which  has  been  noted  for  promis- 
ing and  deceiving. 

"  I  am,  &c. 
"  [London,]  June  24,  175.5.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 


••    DEAR  SIR, 

"  I  told  you  that  among  the  manuscripts  are 
some  things  of  Sir  Thomas  More.  I  beg  you  to  pass 
an.  hour  in  looking  on  them,  and   procure  a  transcript 

2  "  At  Ellsfield,  a  village  three  miles  from  Oxford." 
s  "  Booksellers  concerned  in  liis  Dictionary." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  §31 

of  the  ten  or  twenty  first  lines  of  each,  to  be  compared  1755. 
with  what  I  have  ;  that  I  may  know  whether  they  are  ^Q 
yet  published.     The  manuscripts  are  these  :  46. 

"  Catalogue  of  Bodl.  MS.  pag.  122.  F.  3.  Sir  Tho- 
mas More. 

1.  Fall  of  Angels.  2.  Creation  and  fall  of  mankind. 
3.  Determination  of  the  Trinity  lor  the  rescue  of  man- 
kind. 4.  Five  lectures  of  our  Saviour's  passion,  i. 
Of  the  institution  of  the  sacrament,  three  lectures.  6. 
How  to  receive  the  blessed  body  of  our  Lord  sacra- 
mentally.  7.  Neomenia,  the  new  moon.  8.  De  tris- 
titia,  tcediO)  pavore,  et  oratione  Christi  unle  captionem 

"  Catalogue,  pag.  \5\.  Life  of  Sir  Thomas  More. 
Qu.  Whether  Hoper's  ?  Pag.  363.  De  resignations 
Magni  Sigilli  in  manus  Regis  per  D.  Thomam  Morum. 
Fag.  36*4.     Mori  Defensio  Moriw. 

"  If  you  procure  the  young  gentleman  in  the  li- 
brary to  write  out  what  you  think  fit  to  be  written,  I 
will  send  to  Mr.  Prince  the  bookseller  to  pay  him 
what  you  shall  think  proper. 

"  Be  pleased  to  make  my  compliments  to  Mr.  Wise. 
and  all  my  friends.     1  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  affectionate,  &c. 
■'  F London^]  Aug.  7,  17j«3.  "  Sam.  Johnson/* 

The  Dictionary,  with  a  Grammar  and  History  of  the 
English  Language,  being  now  at  length  published,  in 
two  volumes  folio,  the  world  contemplated  with  won- 
der so  stupendous  a  work  atchieved  by  one  man,  while 
other  countries  had  thought  such  undertakings  fit  onlv 
for  whole  academies.  Vast  as  his  powers  were,  I  can- 
not but  think  that  his  imagination  deceived  him,  when 
he  supposed  that  by  constant  application  he  might 
have  performed  the  task  in  three  years.  Let  the  Pre- 
face be  attentively  perused,  in  which  "is  given,  in  a 
clear,  strong,  and  glowing  style,  a  comprehensive,  yet 
particular  view  of  what  he  had  done;  and  it  will  be 
evident,  that  the  time  he  employed  upon  it  was  com- 
paratively short.  1  am  unwilling  to  swell  my  book 
with,  long  quotation    from   what   is  in   every  body's 

232  THE    LIFE    Oi 

1755.  hands,  and  I  believe  there  are  few  prose  compositions 
Mtut.  m  tne  ^n§Msn  language  that  are  read  with  more  de- 
46.  light,  or  are  more  impressed  upon  the  memory,  than 
that  preliminary  discourse.  One  of  its  excellencies 
has  always  struck  me  with  peculiar  admiration  ;  I  mean 
the  perspicuity  with  which  he  has  expressed  abstract 
scientifick  notions.  As  an  instance  of  this,  1  shall 
quote  the  following  sentence  :  "  When  the  radical  idea 
branches  out  into  parallel  ramifications,  how  can  a  con- 
secutive series  be  formed  of  senses  in  their  own  nature 
collateral  I"  We  have  here  an  example  of  what  has 
been  often  said,  and  I  believe  with  justice,  that  there 
is  for  every  thought  a  certain  nice  adaptation  of  words 
which  none  other  could  equal,  and  which,  when  a  man 
has  been  so  fortunate  as  to  hit,  he  has  attained,  in  that 
particular  case,  the  perfection  of  language. 

The  extensive  reading  which  was  absolutely  neces* 
sary  for  the  accumulation  of  authorities,  and  which 
alone  may  accountfor  Johnson's  retentive  mindbeingen- 
riched  with  a  very  large  and  various  store  of  knowledge 
and  imagery,  must  have  occupied  several  years.  The 
Preface  furnishes  an  eminent  instance  of  a  double  tal- 
ent, of  which  Johnson  was  fully  conscious.  Sir  Joshua 
Reynolds  heard  him  sav,  "  There  are  two  things  which 
I  am  confident  I  can  do  very  well :  one  is  an  intro- 
duction to  any  literary  work,  stating  what  it  is  to  con- 
tain, and  how  it  should  be  executed  in  the  most  per- 
fect manner  ;  the  other  is  a  conclusion,  shewing  from 
various  causes  why  the  execution  has  not  been  equal 
to  what  the  authour  promised  to  himself  and  to  the 

How  should  puny  scribblers  be  abashed  and  disap- 
pointed, when  they  find  him  displaying  a  perfect  theory 
of  lexicographical  excellence,  yet  at  the  same  time 
candidly  and  modestlv  allowing  that  he  "  had  not  sat- 
isfied  his  own  expectations."  Here  was  a  fair  occasion 
for  the  exercise  of  Johnson's  modesty,  when  he  was 
called  upon  to  compare  his  own  arduous  performance, 
not  with  those  of  other  individuals,  (in  which  case  his 
inflexible  regard  to  truth  would  have  been  violated 
had  he  affected  diffidence,)  but  with  speculative  perfec- 

DR.   JOHNSON,  2:33 

tion  ;  as  he,  who  can  outstrip  all  his  competitors  in  the  1755. 
race,  may  yet  be  sensible  of  his  deficiency  when  he  runs  jgj^ 
against  time.  Well  might  he  say,  that  "  the  English  46. 
Dictionary  was  written  with  little  assistance  of  the 
learned ;"  for  he  told  me,  that  the  only  aid  which  he 
received  was  a  paper  containing  twenty  etymologies, 
sent  to  him  by  a  person  then  unknown,  who  he  was 
afterwards  informed  was  Dr.  Pearce,  Bishop  of  Ro- 
chester. The  etymologies,  though  they  exhibit  learn- 
ing and  judgement,  are  not,  I  think,  entitled  to  the  first 
praise  amongst  the  various  parts  of  this  immense  work. 
The  definitions  have  always  appeared  to  me  such  aston- 
ishing proofs  of  acuteness  of  intellect  and  precision  of 
language,  as  indicate  a  genius  of  the  highest  rank. 
This  it  is  which  marks  the  superiour  excellence  of 
Johnson's  Dictionary  over  others  equally  or  even  more 
voluminous,  and  must  have  made  it  a  work  of  much, 
greater  mental  labour  than  mere  Lexicons,  or  Word- 
Books,  as  the  Dutch  call  them.  They,  who  will  make 
the  experiment  of  trying  how  they  can  define  a  few 
words  of  whatever  nature,  will  soon  be  satisfied  of  the 
unquestionable  justice  of  this  observation,  which  I  can 
assure  my  readers  is  founded  upon  much  study,  and 
Upon  communication  with  more  minds  than  my  own. 

A  few  of  his  definitions  must  be  admitted  to  be  er- 
roneous. Thus,  Windward  and  Leezmrd,  though  di- 
rectly of  opposite  meaning,  are  defined  identically  the 
same  way  ;+  as  to  which  inconsiderable  specks  it  is 
enough  to  observe,  that  his  Preface  announces  that  he 
was  aware  there  might  be  many  such  in  so  immense  a 
work  ;  nor  was  he  at  all  disconcerted  when  an  instance 
was  pointed  out  to  him.  A  lady  once  asked  him  how 
he  came  to  define  Pastern  the  knee  of  a  horse  :  instead 
of  making  an  elaborate  defence,  as  she  expected,  he 
at  once  answered,  "  Ignorance,  Madam,  pure  igno- 
rance." His  definition  of  Network  has  been  often 
quoted  with  sportive  malignity,  as  obscuring  a  thing  in 
itself  very  plain.     But  to  these  frivolous  censures  no 

4  [He  owns  in  his  preface  the  deficiency  of  the  technical  part  of  his  work  ;  and 
lie  said,  he  should  be  much  obliged  to  me  for  definitions  of  musical  terms  for  hie 
next  edition,  which  he  did  not  live  to  superintend.     B.1 

VOL.   I.  30 

9-3  4t  THE    LIFE    OF 

1755.  other  answer  is  necessary  than  that  with  which  we  are 
]£{^t  finished  by  his  own  Preface.  "  To  explain,  requires 
46.  the  use  of  terms  less  abstruse  than  that  which  is  to  be 
explained,  and  such  terms  cannot  always  be  found. 
For  as  nothing  can  be  proved  but  by  supposing  some- 
thing intuitively  known,  and  evident  without  proof,  so 
nothing  can  be  defined  but  by  the  use  of  words  too 
plain  to  admit  of  definition.  Sometimes  easier  words 
are  changed  into  harder  ;  as  burial,  into  sepulture  ov  in- 
terment;  dry,  into  desiccative ;  dryness,  into  siccity,  or 
aridity  ;  Jit,  into  paroxism  ;  for,  the  easiest  word,  what- 
ever it  be,  can  never  be  translated  into  one  more  easy." 
His  introducing  his  own  opinions,  and  even  preju- 
dices under  general  definitions  of  words,  while  at  the 
same  time  the  original  meaning  of  the  words  is  not  ex- 
plained, as  his  Tor//,  Whig,  Pension,  Oats,  Excise,*  and 
a  few  more,  cannot  be  fully  defended,  and  must  be 
placed  to  the  account  of  capricious  and  humourous  in- 
dulgence. Talking  to  me  upon  this  subject  when  we 
were  at  Ashbourne  in  1777,  he  mentioned  a  still  strong- 
er instance  of  the  predominance  of  his  private  feelings 
in  the  composition  of  this  work,  than  any  now  to  be 
found  in  it.  "  You  know,  Sir,  Lord  Gower  forsook 
the  old  Jacobite  interest.  When  I  came  to  the  word 
Renegado,  after  telling  that  it  meant  6  one  who  deserts 
to  the  enemy,  a  revolter/  1  added,  Sometimes  we  say  a 
Gower.  Thus  it  went  to  the  press  :  but  the  printer 
had  more  wit  than  I,  and  struck  it  out." 

'  He  thus  defines  Excise  '  A  hateful  tax  levied  upon  commodities,  and  adjudged 
not  by  the  common  judges  of  property,  but  wretches  hired  by  those  to  whom  Ex- 
cise is  paid."  The  commissioners  of  Excise  being  offended  by  this  severe  reflec- 
tion, consulted  Mr.  Murray,  then  Attorney  General,  to  know  whether  redress 
could  be  legally  obtained.  I  wished  to  have  procured  for  my  readers  a  copy  of 
the  opinion  which  he  gave,  and  which  may  now  be  justly  considered  as  history  : 
but  the  mysterious  secresy  of  office  it  seems  would  not  permit  it.  I  am,  however, 
informed,  bv  very  good  authority,  that  its  import  was,  that  the  passage  might  be 
considered  as  actionable  ;  but  that  it  would  be  more  prudent  in  the  board  not  to 
prosecute.  Johnson  never  made  the  smallest  alteration  in  this  passage.  We  find 
he  still  retained  his  early  prejudice  against  Excise  ;  for  in  "  The  Idler,  No.  65," 
there  is  the  following  very  extraordinary  paragraph  :  "  The  authenticity  of  Clar- 
endan's  history,  though  printed  with  the  sanction  of  one  of  the  first  Universities 
of  the  world,  had  not  an  unexpected  manuscript  been  happily  discovered,  would, 
with  the  help  of  factious  credulity,  have  been  brought  into  question,  by  the  two 
lowest  of  all  human  beings,  a  Scribbler  for  a  party,  and  a  commissioner  of  Ex- 
cise." The  persons  to  whom  he  alludes  were  Mr,  John  Oldmixon,  and  Georgr 
Ducket,  Esq. 


Lot  it,  however,  be  remembered,  that  this  indulgence  17&5 
does  not  display  itself  only  in  sarcasm  towards  others,  ^T^ 
but  sometimes  in  playful  allusion    to  the  notions  com-    4^ 
inoidy  entertained  of  his  own  laborious  task.     Thus  ; 
"  Grub~street%  the  name  of  a  street  in    London,  much 
inhabited  by  writers  of  small  histories, dictionaries,  and 
temporary   poems;  whence    any    mean    production   is 
called  Grub-street^ — "  Lexicographer,  a  writer  of  dic- 
tionaries, a  harmless  drudge  " 

At  the  time  when  he  was  concluding-  his  ver 
quent  Preface,  Johnson's  mind  appears  to  have  been  in 
such  a  state  of  depression,  that  we  cannot  contemplate, 
without  wonder  the  vigorous  and  splendid  thoughts 
which  so  highly  distinguish  that  performance.  "  I 
says  he)  may  surely  be  contented  without  the  praise 
of  perfection,  which  if  I  could  obtain  in  this  gloom  of 
solitude,  what  would  it  avail  me  I  1  have  protracted  my 
work  till  most  of  those  whom  I  wished  to  please  have 
sunk  into  the  grave  ;  and  success  and  miscarriage  arc 
empty  sounds.  I  therefore  dismiss  it  with  frigid  tran- 
quillity, having  little  to  fear  or  hope  from  censure  or 
from  praise."  That  this  indifference  was  rather  a  tem- 
porary than  an  habitual  feeling,  appears,  1  think,  from 
his  letters  to  Mr.  Warton  ;  and  however  he  may  have 
been  affected  for  the  moment,  certain  it  is  that  the 
honours  which  his  great  work  procured  him,  both  at 
home  and  abroad,  were  very  grateful  to  him.  His 
friend  the  Earl  of  Corke  and  Orrery,  being  at  Florence, 
presented  it  to  the  Academia  delta  Crusca.  Thai 
Academy  sent  Johnson  their  Vocabulario,  and  the 
French  Academy  sent  him  their  Dictionnaire,  which 
Mr.  Langton  had  the  pleasure  to  convey  to  him. 

It  must  undoubtedly  seem  strange,  that  the  conclu- 
sion of  his  Preface  should  be  expressed  in  terms  so  de- 
sponding, when  it  is  considered  that  the  authour  was 
then  only  in  his  forty-sixth  year.  Hut  we  must  ascrib. 
its  gloom  to  that  miserable  dejection  of  spirits  to  which 
he  was  constitutionally  subject,  and  which  was  aggra- 
vated by  the  death  of  his  wife  two  years  before.  I 
have  heard  it  ingeniously  observed  by  a  lady  of  rank 
and  elegance,  that  "  his  melancholy  was  then  at  its 

236  I  HE    LIFE    OP 

1755.  meridian."     It  pleased  God  to  grant  him  almost  thirty 

^^  years  of  life  after  this  time  ;  and  once  when  he  was  in 

46. '  a  placid  frame  of  mind,  he  was  obliged  to  own  to  me 

that  he  had  enjoyed  happier  days,  and  had  many  more 

friends,  since  that  gloomy  hour,  than  before. 

It  is  a  sad  saying,  that  "  most  of  those  whom  he  wish- 
ed to  please  had  sunk  into  the  grave  ;"  and  his  case  at 
forty-five  was  singularly  unhappy,  unless  the  circle  of 
his  friends  was  very  narrow.  I  have  often  thought, 
that  as  longevity  is  generally  desired,  and  I  believe, 
generally  expected,  it  would  be  wise  to  be  continually 
adding  to  the  number  of  our  friends,  that  the  loss  of 
some  may  be  supplied  by  others.  Friendship,  "  the 
wine  of  life,"  should,  like  a  well  stocked  cellar,  be  thus 
continually  renewed  ;  and  it  is  consolatory  to  think, 
that  although  we  can  seldom  add  what  will  equal  the 
generous  first-growths  of  our  youth,  yet  friendship  be- 
comes insensibly  old  in  much  less  time  than  is  com- 
monly imagined,  and  not  many  years  are  required  to 
make  it  very  mellow  and  pleasant.  Warmth  will,  no 
doubt,  make  a  considerable  difference.  Men  of  affec- 
tionate temper  and  bright  fancy  will  coalesce  a  great 
deal  sooner  than  those  who  are  cold  and  dull. 

The  proposition  which  I  have  now  endeavoured  to 
illustrate  was,  at  a  subsequent  period  of  his  life,  the 
opinion  of  Johnson  himself.  He  said  to  Sir  Joshua 
Reynolds,  "  If  a  man  does  not  make  new  acquaintance 
as  he  advances  through  life,  he  will  soon  find  himself 
left  alone.  A  man,  Sir,  should  keep  his  friendship  in 
constant  repair" 

The  celebrated  Mr.  Wilkes,  whose  notions  and  hab- 
its of  life  were  very  opposite  to  his,  but  who  was  ever 
eminent  for  literature  and  vivacity,  sallied  forth  with  a 
little  Jen  a"  Esprit  upon  the  following  passage  in  his 
Grammar  of  the  English  Tongue,  prefixed  to  the  Dic- 
tionary :  "  //  seldom,  perhaps  never,  begins  any  but 
the  first  syllable."  In  an  essay  printed  in  "  the  Pub- 
lick  Advertiser,"  this  lively  writer  enumerated  many 
instances  in  opposition  to  this  remark  ;  for  example, 
"  The  authour  of  this  observation  must  be  a  man  of 
a  quick  appre-hensio?i,  and  of  a  most  compre-hcnskc 

DR.    JOHNSON.  237 

genius."     The  position  is  undoubtedly  expressed  with  1755. 
too  much  latitude.  JEtat. 

This  light  sally,  we  may  suppose,  made  no  great  im-   46. 
pression  on  our  Lexicographer ;  for  we  find  that  he  did 
not  alter  the  passage  till  many  years  afterwards.6 

He  had  the  pleasure  of  being  treated  in  a  very  dif- 
ferent manner  by  his  old  pupil  Mr.  Garrick,  in  the  fol- 
lowing complimentary  Epigram  : 

"  On  Johnson's  Dictionary. 

"  Talk  of  war  with  a  Briton,  he'll  boldly  advance, 
"  That  one  English  soldier  will  beat  ten  of  France  ; 
"  Would  we  alter  the  boast  from  the  sword  to  the  pen, 
"  Our  odds  are  still  greater,  still  greater  our  men  : 
,{  In  the  deep  mines  of  science  though  Frenchmen  may 

•'  Can  their  strength  be  compard  to  Locke,  Newton, 

and  Boyle  ? 
"  Let  them  rally  their  heroes,  send  forth  all  their  pow'rs, 
"  Their  verse-men   and  prose-men,  then   match  them 

with  ours  ! 
"  First  Shakspeare  and  Milton,  like  Gods  in  the  fight. 
"  Have  put  their  whole  drama  and  epick  to  flight  ; 
"In  satires,  epistles,  and  odes,  would  they  cope, 
;'  Their  numbers  retreat  before  Dryden  and  Pope  ; 
"  And  Johnson,  well  arm'd  like  a  hero  of  yore, 
"  Has  beat  forty  French,7  and  will  beat  forty  more  1" 

Johnson  this  year  gave  at  once  a  proof  of  his  benev- 
olence, quickness  of  apprehension,  and  admirable  art  of 
composition,  in  the  assistance  which  he  gave  to  Mr. 
Zachariah  Williams,  father  of  the  blind  lady  whom  he 
had  humanely  received  under  his  roof.  Mr.  Williams 
had  followed  the  profession  of  physick  in  Yvrales  ;  but 
having  a  very  strong  propensity  to  the  study  of  natural 
philosophy,  had  made  many  ingenious  advances  towards 

6  In  the  third  edition,  published,  in  1773,  he  left  out  the  words  perhaps  never, 
and  added  the  following  paragraph  : 

"  It  sometimes  begins  middle  or  final  syllables  in  words  compounded,  as  block- 
b;ad,  or  derived  from  the  Latin,  as  comprehended. 

'  The  number  of  the  Frencli  Academy  employed  in  settling  their  language. 

238  IHE    LIFE    OF 

1755.  a  discovery  of  the  longitude,  and  repaired  to  London  in 
j£^"  hopes  of  obtaining  the  great  parliamentary  reward.  He 
46.  '  failed  of  success  :  hut  Johnson  having  made  himself 
master  of  his  principles  and  experiments,  wrote  for  him 
a  pamphlet,  published  in  quarto,  with  the  following 
title  :  "  An  Account  of  an  Attempt  to  ascertain  the 
Longitude  at  Sea,  by  an  exact  Theory  of  the  variation 
of  the  Magneticai  Needle  ;  with  a  'fable  of  the  Varia- 
tions at  the  most  remarkable  Cities  in  Europe,  from 
the  year  1660  to  1860."t  To  diffuse  it  more  exten- 
sively,  it  was  accompanied  with  an  Italian  translation 
on  the  opposite  page,  which  it  is  supposed  was  the  work 
of  Signor  Baretti,8  an  Italian  of  considerable  literature, 
who  having  come  to  England  a  few  years  before,  had 
been  employed  in  the  capacity  both  of  a  language-master 
and  an  authour,  and  formed  an  intimacy  with  Dr.  John- 
son. This  pamphlet  Johnson  presented  to  the  Bod- 
leian Library.  5  On  a  blank  leaf  of  it  is  pasted  a  para- 
graph cut  out  of  a  newspaper,  containing  an  account  of 
the  death  and  character  of  Williams,  plainly  written  by 

In  Julv  this  year  he  had  formed  some  scheme  of 
mental  improvement,  the  particular  purpose  ot  which 
does  not  appear.  But  we  find  in  his  "  Prayers  and 
Meditations,"  p.  2.5,  a  prayer  entitled,  "  On  the  Study 
of  Philosophy,  as  an  instrument  of  living  ;"  and  after 
it  follows  a  note,  "  This  study  was  not  pursued." 

On  the  13th  of  the  same  month  he  wrote  in  his 
Journal  the  following  scheme  of  life,  for  Sunday  : 
"  Having  lived"   (as  he  with  tenderness  of  conscience 

3  [This  ingenious  foreigner,  who  was  a  native  of  Piedmont,  came  to  England 
about  the  year  1753,  and  died  in  London  May  5,  1789.  A  very  candid  and  judi- 
cious account  of  him  and  his  works,  beginning  with  the  words,  "  So  much  asperit," 
and  %vritten,  it  is  believed,  by  a  distinguished  dignitary  in  the  church,  may  be 
found  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  for  that  year,  p.  469.     M.] 

9  See  note  by  Mr.  Warton,  p.  215.  [from  which  it  appears  that  "  12th"  in  the 
iiest  note  means  the  12th  of  July,  1755.     M.] 

1  "  On  Saturday  the  12th,  about  twelve  at  night,  died  Mr.  Zachariah  Williams, 
in  his  eighty-third  year,  after  an  illness  of  eight  months,  in  full  possession  of  his 
mental  faculties.  He  has  been  long  known  to  philosophers  and  seamen  for  his 
skill  in  magnetism,  and  his  proposal  to  ascertain  the  longitude  by  a  peculiar  sys- 
tem of  the  variation  of  the  compass.  He  was  a  man  of  industry  indefatigable,  of 
conversation  inoffensive,  patient  of  adversity  and  disease,  eminently  sober,  tern; 
ate,  and  pious  ;  and  worthy  to  have  ended  life  with  better  fortune." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  C2J9 

expresses  himself)  "  not  without  an  habitual  reverence  1756. 
for  the  Sabbath,  yet  without  that  attention  to  its  relig-  jgjCJ* 
ious  duties  which  Christianity  requires  ;"  47.' 

"  1.  To  rise  early,  and  in  order  to  it,  to  go  to  sleep 
earl)-  on  Saturday. 

"  c2.  To  Use  some  extraordinary  devotion  in  the 

"  ;3.  To  examine  the  tenour  of  my  life,  and  particu- 
larly the  last  week  ;  and  to  mark  my  advances  i  11  relig- 
ion, or  recession  from  it. 

"  4.  To  read  the  Scripture  methodically  with  such 
helps  as  are  at  hand. 

"  5.  To  20  to  church  twice. 

o  .... 

"  6.  To  read  books  of  Divinity,  either  speculative 
or  practical. 

"  7.  To  instruct  my  family. 

"  8.  To  wear  off  by  meditation  any  worldly  soil  con- 
tracted in  the  week." 

In  17«36  Johnson  found  that  the  great  fame  of  his 
Dictionary  had  not  set  him  above  the  necessity  of 
"  making  provision  for  the  clay  that  was  passing  over 
him."2  No  royal  or  noble  patron  extended  a  munifi- 
cent hand  to  give  independence  to  the  man  who  had 
conferred  stability  on  the  language  of  his  country.  We 
may  fe(  1  indignant  that  there  should  have  been  such 
unworthy  neglect  ;  but  we  must,  at  the  same  time, 
congratulate  ourselves,  when  we  consider,  that  to  this 
very  neglect,  operating  to  rouse  the  natural  indolence 
of  his  constitution,  we  owe  many  valuable  productions, 
which   otherwise,  perhaps,  might  never  have  appeared. 

He  had  spent,  during  the  progress  of  the  work,  the 
money  for  which  he  had  contracted  to  write  his  Dic- 
tionary. We  have  seen  that  the  reward  of  his  labour 
was  only  fifteen  hundred  and  seventy-five  pounds  ;  and 
when  the  expence  of  amanuenses  and  paper,  and  oth<  1 
articles,  are  deducted,  his  clear  profit  was  very   inccn- 

2  [He  was  so  far  frcm  being  "  set  above  the  necessity  of  making  provision  foi 
the  day  that  was  passing  over  him,"  that  lie  appears  to  have  been  in  this  year  in 
great  pecuniary  distress,  having  been  arrested  for  debt  ;  on  which  occasion  hi-> 
friend,  Samuel  Richardson,  became  his  surety.  See  a  lecter  from  Johnson  to  him. 
on  that  subject,  dated  Ft-b.  19,  1756      Richardson's  Cos  j   ? 

285.     M.I 

240  THE    LIFE    01 

1756.  siderable.  I  once  said  to  him,  "  I  am  sorry,  Sir,  you 
did  not  get  more  for  your  Dictionary."  His  answer 
was,  "  1  am  sorry  too.  But  it  was  very  well.  The 
booksellers  are  generous  liberal-minded  men."  He, 
upon  all  occasions,  did  ample  justice  to  their  character 
in  this  respect.  He  considered  them  as  the  patrons  of 
literature  ;  and,  indeed,  although  they  have  eventually 
been  considerable  gainers  by  his  Dictionary,  it  is  to 
them  that  we  owe  its  having  been  undertaken  and  car- 
ried through  at  the  risk  of  great  expence,  for  they  were 
not  absolutely  sure  of  being  indemnified. 

On  the  first  day  of  this  year3  we  find  from  his  pri- 
vate devotions,  that  he  had  then  recovered  from  sick- 
ness,* and  in  February  that  his  eye  was  restored  to  its 
use.5  The  pious  gratitude  with  which  he  acknowl- 
edges mercies  upon  every  occasion  is  very  edifying  ;  as 
is  the  humble  submission  which  he  breathes,  when  it: 
is  the  will  of  his  heavenly  Father  to  try  him  with  af- 
flictions. As  such  dispositions  become  the  state  of 
man  here,  and  are  the  true  effects  of  religious  disci- 
pline, we  cannot  but  venerate  in  Johnson  one  of  the 
most  exercised  minds  that  our  holy  religion  hath  ever 
formed.  If  there  be  any  thoughtless  enough  to  sup- 
pose such  exercise  the  weakness  of  a  great  understand-> 
ing,  let  them  look  up  to  Johnson,  and  be  convinced 
that  what  he  so  earnestly  practised  must  have  a  rational 

His  works  this  year  were,  an  abstract  or  epitome,  in 
octavo,  of  his  folio  Dictionary,  and  a  few  essays  in  a 
monthly  publication,  entitled,  "The  Universal  Vis- 
iter." Christopher  Smart,  with  whose  unhappy  vacil- 
lation of  mind  he  sincerely  sympathised,  was  one  of  the 
stated  undertakers  of  this  miscellany  ;  and  it  was  to 
assist  him  that  Johnson  sometimes  employed  his  pen, 

[In  April  in  this  year,  Johnson  wrote  a  letter  to  Dr.  Joseph  Warton,  in  con- 
.  ijuence  of  having  read  a  few  pages  of  that  gentleman's  newly  published  "  Es- 
■>ay  on  the  Genius  and  Writings  of  Pope."  The  only  paragraph  in  it  that  respects 
Johnson's  personal  history  is  this  :  "  For  my  part  I  have  not  lately  done  much. 
1  have  been  ill  in  the  winter,  and  my  eye  has  been  inflamed ;  but  I  please  myself 
with  the  hopes  of  doing  many  things,  with  which  I  have  long  pleased  and  deceived 
myself!"  Memoirs  of  -Dr.  J.  Warton,  &c.  4to.  1806.     M.] 

'•  Pravers  and  Meditation?,  6  Ibid,  27. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  2il 

AH  the  essays  marked  with  two  asterisks  have  been  1756. 
ascribed  to  him  ;  but  1  am  confident,  from  internal  ev-  jJT,^ 
idence,  that  of  these,  neither  "  'The  Lite  of  Chaucer,"  47. 
"  Reflections  on  the  Mate  of  Portugal,"  nor  an  "  Essay 
on  Architecture,"  were  written  by  him.  1  am  equally 
confident,  upon  the  same  evidence,  that  he  wrote 
*•  Further  Thoughts  on  Agriculture  ;"*}■  being  the  se- 
quel of  a  very  inferiour  essay  on  the  same  subject,  and 
which,  though  carried  on  as  if  by  the  same  hand,  is 
both  in  thinking  and  expression  so  far  above  it,  and  so 
strikingly  peculiar,  as  to  leave  no  doubt  of  its  true  pa- 
rent ;  and  that  he  also  wrote  "  A  Dissertation  on  the 
State  of  Literature  and  Authours,"-j*  and  "  A  Disser- 
tation on  the  Epitaphs  written  by  Pope."*  The  last 
of  these,  indeed,  he  afterwards  added  to  his  "  Idler." 
Why  the  essavs  truly  written  by  him  are  marked  in  the 
same  manner  with  some  which  he  did  not  write,  I  can- 
not explain  ;  but  with  deference  to  those  who  have 
ascribed  to  him  the  three  essays  which  I  have  rejected, 
they  want  all  the  characteristical  marks  of  Johnsonian 

Me  engaged  also  to  superintend  and  contribute  large- 
ly to  another  monthly  publication,  entitled  "  The  Lit- 
erary Magazine,  or  Universal  Review  ;"*  the 
first  number  of  which  came  out  in  May  this  vear. 
What  were  his  emoluments  from  this  undertaking,  and 
what  other  writers  were  employed  in  it,  I  have  not 
discovered.  He  continued  to  write  in  it,  with  inter- 
missions, till  the  fifteenth  number  ;  and  I  think  that  he 
never  gave  better  proofs  of  the  force,  acuteness,  and 
vivacity  of  his  mind,  than  in  this  miscellany,  whether 
we  consider  his  original  essays,  or  his  reviews  of  the 
works  of  others.  The  "  Preliminary  Address"*)*  to  the 
publick,  is  a  proof  how  this  great  man  could  embellish, 
with  the  graces  of  superiour  composition,  even  so  trite 
a  thing  as  the  plan  of  a  magazine. 

His  orioinal  essavs  are.  "  An  Introduction  to  the 
Political  State  of  Great-13ritain  ;"f  "  Remarks  on  the 
Militia  Bill  ;"t  "  Observations  on  his  Britannick  Maj- 
esty's Treaties  with  the  Empress  of  Russia  and  the 
Landgrave  of  Hesse  Cassel  :"*r  :;  Observations  on  the 

vol.  t.  :>  i 

^42  THE    LIFE    OF 

1756.  Present  State  of  Affairs  ;"f  and,  "  Memoirs  of  Ffeder- 
MtM. lc^  ^*  ^no  °^  In  all  these  he  displays 
47.  extensive  political  knowledge  and  sagacity,  expressed 
with  uncommon  energy  and  perspicuity,  without  any 
of  those  words  which  he  sometimes  took  a  pleasure  in 
adopting,  in  imitation  of  Sir  Thomas  Browne  ;  of  whose 
"  Christian  Morals"  he  this  year  gave  an  edition,  with 
his  "  Life"*  prefixed  to  it,  which  is  one  of  Johnson's 
best  biographical  performances.  In  one  instance  only 
in  these  essays  has  he  indulged  his  Brownism.  Dr. 
Robertson,  the  historian,  mentioned  it  tome,  as  having 
at  once  convinced  him  that  Johnson  was  the  authour 
of  the  "  Memoirs  of  the  King  of  Prussia."  Speaking 
of  the  pride  which  the  old  King,  the  father  of  his  hero, 
took  in  being  master  of  the  tallest  regiment  in  Europe, 
he  says,  "  To  review  this  towering  regiment  was  his 
daily  pleasure  ;  and  to  perpetuate  it  was  so  much  his 
care,  that  when  he  met  a  tall  woman  he  immediately 
commanded  one  of  his  Titanian  retinue  to  marry  her, 
that  they  might  propagate  procerittj."  For  this  Anglo- 
Latian  word  procerittj,  Johnson  had,  however,  the 
authority  of  Addison. 

His  reviews  are  of  the  following  books  :  "  Birch's 
History  of  the  Royal  Society  ;"•}"  "  Murphy's  Gray's- 
Inn  Journal  ;"-j*  "  YY  arton's  Essay  on  the  Writings  and 
Genius  of  Pope,  Vol.  I."f  "  Hampton's  Translation  of 
Polybius  ;"■]*  "  Black  well's  Memoirs  of  the  Court  of 
Augustus  ;"f  "  Russell's  Natural  History  of  Alep- 
po ;"•]"  "  Sir  Isaac  Newton's  Arguments  in  Proof  of  a 
Deity  ;"f  "  Borlase's  History  of  the  Isles  of  Scilly  ;"| 
"  Holme's  Experiments  on  Bleaching  ;"*f  "  Browne's 
Christian  Morals  ;"|  "  Hales  on  distilling  Sea-Water, 
Y'entilators  in  Ships,  and  curing  an  ill  Taste  in  Milk  ;"f 
"  Lucas's  Essay  on  Waters  ;"■(•  "  Keith's  Catalogue  of 
the  Scottish  Bishops  ;"f  "  Browne's  History  of  .Jamai- 
ca ;"|  "  Philosophical  Transactions,  Vol.  XLlX."f 
"  Mrs.  Lenox's  Translation  of  Sully's  Memoirs  ;"* 
"  Miscellanies  by  Elizabeth  Harrison  ;"f  "  Evans's 
Map  and  Account  of  the  Middle  Colonies  in  Amer- 
ica ;"f  "  Letter  on  the  Case  of  Admiral  Byng  • 
•  Appeal  to  the  People  concerning  Admiral  Byng 

DR.    JOHNSON.  %  ;* 

"  Hanway's  Eight  Days  .Journey,  and  Essay  on  Tea;"*  J  756. 
'u  The  Cadet,  a  Military  Treatise  ;"f  "  Some  further J£J^ 
Particulars  in  Relation  to  the  Case  of  Admiral  Byng,  47. 
by  a  Gentleman  of  Oxford  ;"*  "  The  Conduct  of  the 
Ministry  relating-  to  the  present  War  impartially  exam- 
ined ;v,f  "  A  Free  Inquiry  into  the  Nature  and  Origin 
of  Evil/'*  All  these,  from  internal  evidence,  were 
written  by  Johnson  :  some  of  them  I  know  he  avowed, 
and  have  marked  them  with  an  asterisk  accordingly. 
Mr.  Thomas  Davies  indeed,  ascribed  to  him  the  Re- 
view of  Mr.  Burke's  "  Inquiry  into  the  Origin  of  our 
Ideas  of  the  Sublime  and  Beautiful  ;"  and  Sir  John 
Hawkins,  with  equal  discernment,  has  inserted  it  in  his 
collection  of  Johnson's  works  :  whereas  it  has  no  re- 
semblance to  Johnson's  composition,  and  is  well  known 
to  have  been  written  by  Mr.  Murphy,  who  has  ac- 
knowledged it  to  me  and  many  others. 

It  is  worthy  of  remark,  in  justice  to  Johnson's  polit- 
ical character,  which  has  been  misrepresented  as  ab- 
jectly submissive  to  power,  that  his  "  Observations  on 
the  present  State  of  Affairs,"  glow  with  as  animated  a 
spirit  of  constitutional  liberty  as  can  be  found  any 
where.  Thus  he  begins  :  "  The  time  is  now  come,  in 
which  every  Englishman  expects  to  be  informed  of  the 
national  affairs  ;  and  in  which  he  has  a  right  to  have 
that  expectation  gratified.  For,  whatever  may  be  urg- 
ed by  Ministers,  or  those  whom  vanity  or  interest  make 
the  followers  of  ministers,  concerning-  the  necessity  of 
confidence  in  our  governours,  and  the  presumption  of 
prying  with  profane  eyes  into  the  recesses  of  policy,  it 
is  evident  that  this  reverence  can  be  claimed  only  by 
counsels  yet  unexecuted,  and  projects  suspended  in  de- 
liberation. But  when  a  design  has  ended  in  miscarri- 
age  or  success,  when  every  eye  and  every  ear  is  witness 
to  general  discontent,  or  general  satisfaction,  it  is  then 
a  proper  time  to  disentangle  confusion  and  illustrate 
obscurity  ;  to  shew  by  what  causes  every  event  was 
produced,  and  in  what  effects  it  is  likely  to  terminate  ; 
to  lay  down  with  distinct  particularity  what  rumour 
always  huddles  in  general  exclamation,  or  perplexes 
by  indigested  narratives  ;  to  shew  whence  happiness 

THE    LIFE    OF 

1756.  or  calamity  is  derived,  and  whence  it  may  be  expected  ; 
j£t.dtt  and  honestly  to  lay  before  the  people  what  inquiry  can 
47.  gather  of  the  past,  and  conjecture  can  estimate  of  the 

Here  we  have  it  assumed  as  an  incontrovertible 
principle,  that  in  this  country  the  people  are  the  super- 
intendants  of  the  conduct  and  measures  of  those  by 
whom  government  is  administered  ;  of  the  beneficial 
effect  of  which  the  present  reign  afforded  an  illustrious 
example,  when  addresses  from  all  parts  of  the  kingdom 
controuled  an  audacious  attempt  to  introduce  a  new 
power  subversive  of  the  crown. 

A  still  stronger  proof  of  his  patriotick  spirit  appears 
in  his  review  of  an  "  Essay  on  Waters,  by  Dr.  Lucas," 
of  whom,  after  describing  him  as  a  man  well  known  to 
the  world  for  his  daring  defiance  of  power,  when  he 
thought  it  exerted  on  the  side  of  wrong,  he  thus  speaks  : 
"  The  Irish  ministers  drove  him  from  his  native  coun- 
try by  a  proclamation,  in  which  they  charge  him  with 
crimes  of  which  they  never  intended  to  be  called  to 
the  proof,  and  oppressed  him  by  methods  equally  irre- 
sistible by  guilt  and  innocence. 

"  Let  the  man  thus  driven  into  exile,  for  having 
been  the  friend  of  his  country,  be  received  in  every 
other  place  as  a  confessor  of  liberty  ;  and  let  the  tools 
of  power  be  taught  in  time,  that  they  may  rob,  but 
cannot  impoverish." 

Some  of  his  reviews  in  this  Magazine  are  very  short 
accounts  of  the  pieces  noticed,  and  I  mention  them 
only  that  Dr.  Johnson's  opinion  of  the  works  may  be 
known  ;  but  many  of  them  are  examples  of  elaborate 
criticism,  in  the  most  masterly  style.  In  his  review  of 
the  "  Memoirs  of  the  Court  of  Augustus,"  he  has  the 
resolution  to  think  and  speak  from  his  own  mind,  re- 
gardless of  the  cant  transmitted  from  age  to  age,  in 
praise  of  the  ancient  Romans.  Thus  :  "  1  know  not 
why  any  one  but  a  school-boy  in  his  declamation  should 
whine  over  the  Commonwealth  of  Rome,  which  grew 
great  only  by  the  misery  of  the  rest  of  mankind.  The 
Romans,  like  others,  as  soon  as  they  grew  rich,  grew 
corrupt  ;   and  in  their  corruption  sold  the  lives  and 

DR.    JOHNSON.  24o 

freedoms  of  themselves,  and  of  one  another."  Again,  1756. 
"  A  people,  who  while  they  were  poor  robbed  man-  2ta£ 
kind  ;  and  as  soon  as  they  became  rich,  robbed  one  47. 
another."  In  his  review  of  the  Miscellanies  in  prose 
and  verse,  published  by  Elizabeth  Harrison,  but  writ- 
ten by  many  hands,  he  gives  an  eminent  proof  at  once 
of  his  orthodoxy  and  candour.  "  The  authours  of  the 
essavs  in  prose  seem  generally  to  have  imitated,  or 
tried  to  imitate,  the  copiousness  and  luxuriance  of  Mrs. 
Roxve.  This,  however,  is  not  all  their  praise  ;  they 
have  laboured  to  add  to  her  brightness  of  imagery,  her 
purity  of  sentiments.  The  poets  have  had  Dr.  Watts 
before  their  eyes  ;  a  writer,  who,  if  he  stood  not  in  the 
first  class  of  genius,  compensated  that  defect  by  a  ready 
application  of  his  powers  to  the  promotion  of  piety. 
The  attempt  to  employ  the  ornaments  of  romance  in 
the  decoration  of  religion,  was,  I  think,  first  made  by 
Mr.  Boijle's  Martyrdom  of  Theodora  ;  but  Boyte's 
philosophical  studies  did  not  allow  him  time  for  the 
cultivation  of  style  :  and  the  completion  of  the  great 
design  was  reserved  for  Mrs.  Rome.  Dr.  Watts  was 
one  of  the  first  who  taught  the  Dissenters  to  write  and 
speak  like  other  men,  by  shewing  them  that  elegance 
might  consist  with  piety.  They  would  have  both  done 
honour  to  a  better  society,  for  they  had  that  charity 
which  might  well  make  their  failings  be  forgotten,  and 
with  which  the  whole  Christian  world  wish  for  com- 
munion. They  were  pure  from  all  the  heresies  of  an 
age,  to  which  every  opinion  is  become  a  favourite  that 
the  universal  church  has  hitherto  detested  ! 

"  This  praise  the  general  interest  of  mankind  re- 
quires to  be  given  to  writers  who  please  and  do  not 
corrupt,  who  instruct  and  do  not  weary.  But  to  them 
all  human  eulogies  are  vain,  whom  1  believe  applauded 
by  angels,  and  numbered  with  the  just." 

His  defence  of  tea  against  Mr.  Jonas  Han  way's  vio- 
lent attack  upon  that  elegant  and  popular  beverage, 
shews  how  very  well  a  man  of  genius  can  write  upon 
the  slightest  subject,  when  he  writes,  as  the  Italians 
sa\',  con  amore  :  1  suppose  no  person  ever  enjoyed  with 
more  relish  the  infusion  of  that  fragrant  leaf  that  John- 

246  THE    LIFE    OF 

1756.  son.  The  quantities  which  he  drank  of  it  at  all  hours 
jE^  were  so  great,  that  his  nerves  must  have  been  uncom- 
17.  monly  strong-,  not  to  have  been  extremely  relaxed  by 
such  an  intemperate  use  of  it,  He  assured  me,  that 
he  never  felt  the  least  inconvenience  from  it  ;  which 
is  a  proof  that  the  fault  of  his  constitution  was  rather  a 
too  great  tension  of  fibres,  than  the  contrary.  Mr. 
Hanway  wrote  an  angry  answer  to  Johnson's  review  of 
his  Essay  on  Tea,  and  Johnson,  after  a  full  and  delib- 
erate  pause,  made  a  reply  to  it  ;  the  only  instance,  I 
believe,  in  the  whole  course  of  his  life,  when  he  conde- 
scended to  oppose  any  thing  that  was  written  against 
him.  I  suppose  when  he  thought  of  any  of  his  little 
antagonists,  he  was  ever  justly  aware  of  the  high  senti- 
ment of  Ajax  in  Ovid  : 

"  Iste  tul'it  pretium  jam  nunc  certaminis  hujus^ 
"   Qui,  chm  victus  erit,  mecum  certasse  Jeretur." 

But,  indeed,  the  good  Mr.  Hanway  laid  himself  so 
open  to  ridicule,  that  Johnson's  animadversions  upon 
his  attack  were  chiefly  to  make  sport. 

The  generosity  with  which  he  pleads  the  cause  of 
Admiral  Byng  is  highly  to  the  honour  of  his  heart  and 
spirit.  Though  Voltaire  affects  to  be  witty  upon  the 
fate  of  that  unfortunate  officer,  observing  that  he  was 
shot  "  pour  encourage)-  les  autres"  the  nation  has  long 
been  satisfied  that  his  life  was  sacrificed  to  the  political 
fervour  of  the  times.  In  the  vault  belonging  to  the 
Torrington  family,  in  the  church  of  Southill,  in  Bed- 
fordshire, there  is  the  following  Epitaph  upon  his  mon- 
ument, which  1  have  transcribed  : 


"  of  publick  Justice, 

"  The  Honourable  John  Byng,  Esq. 

"  Admiral  of  the  Blue, 

"  Fell  a  Martyr  to  political 

"  Persecution, 

"  March  14,  in  the  Year,  17.57; 

"  when  Bravery  and  Loyalty; 

"  were  insufficient  Securities 

-'"  for  the  Life  and  Honour  of 

"  A  Naval  Officer." 

'  - 


DR.    JOHNSON.  247 

Johnson's  most  exquisite  critical  essay  in  the  Litera-  1756. 
ry  Magazine,   and  indeed  any  where,  is  his  review  of j£T? 
Soame   Jenyns's   "  Inquiry  into  the   Origin   of  Evil."    47  # ' 
Jenyns  was  possessed  of  lively  talents,   and  a  style  em- 
inently pure  and  easy,  and  could  very  happily  play  with 
a  light  subject,  either  in  prose  or  verse  ;   but  when  he 
speculated  on  that  most  difficult  and  excruciating  ques- 
tion, the  Origin  of  Evil,  he  "  ventured  far  beyond  his 
depth,"   and,  accordingly,   was  exposed   by  Johnson 
both  with  acute  argument  and  brilliant  wit.     1  remem 
ber  when  the  late  Mr.  Bicknell's  humourous   perform 
ance,  entitled  "  The  Musical  Travels  of  Joel  Collyer, 
in  which  a  slight  attempt  is  made  to  ridicule  Johnson, 
was  ascribed  to  Soame  Jenyns,  "  Ha  !  (said  Johnson)  I 
thought  I  had  given  him  enough  of  it." 

His  triumph  over  Jenyns  is  thus  described  by  my 
friend  Mr.  Courtenay  in  his  "  Poetical  Review  of  the 
literary  and  moral  Character  of  Dr.  Johnson  ;"  a  per- 
formance of  such  merit,  that  had  1  not  been  honoured 
with  a  very  kind  and  partial  notice  in  it,  I  should  echo 
the  sentiments  of  men  of  the  first  taste  loudlv  in  its 
praise  : 

"  When  specious  sophists  with  presumption  scan 
"  The  source  of  evil  hidden  still  from  man  ; 
44  Revive  Arabian  tales,  and  vainly  hope 
"  To  rival  St.  John,  and  his  scholar  Pope  : 
44  Though  metaphysicks  spread  the  gloom  of  night, 
44  By  reason's  star  he  guides  our  aching  sight ; 
The  bounds  of  knowledge  masks,  and  points  the  way 
To  pathless  wastes,  where  wilder'd  sages  stray  ; 
Where,  like  a  farthing  link-boy,  Jenyns  stands, 
And  the  dim  torch  drops  from  his  feeble  hands."" 


5  Some  time  after  Dr.  Johnson's  death  there  appeared  in  the  news-papers  and 
magazines  an  illiberal  and  petulant  attack  upon  him,  in  the  form  of  an  Epitaph, 
under  the  name  of  Mr.  Soame  Jenyns,  very  unworthy  of  that  gentleman,  who  had 
quietly  submitted  to  the  critical  lash  while  Johnson  lived.  It  assumed,  as  charac- 
temticks  of  him,  all  the  vulgar  circumstances  of  abuse  which  had  circulated 
amongst  the  ignorant.  It  was  an  unbecoming  indulgence  of  puny  resentment,  at 
a  time  when  he  himself  was  at  a  very  advanced  age,  and  had  a  near  prospect  c^ 
descending  to  the  grave.  I  was  truly  sorry  for  it  ;  for  he  was  then  become  ar« 
avowed,  and  (as  my  Lord  Bishop  of  London,  v.  ho  had  a  serious  conversation  with, 
him  on  the  subject,  assures  me)  a  sincere  Christian.  He  could  not  expect  that 
Johnson's  numerous  friends  would  patiently  bear  to  have  the  memory  of  their 

248  THE    LIFE    OF 

1756.  This  year  IVJr.  William  Payne,  brother  of  the  re- 
JEtaT  sPectable  bookseller  of  that  name,  published  "  An  In- 
47.  troduction  to  the  Game  of  Draughts,"  to  which  John- 
son contributed  a  Dedication  to  the  Earl  of  iiochford,* 
and  a  Preface,*  both  of  which  are  admirably  adapted 
to  the  treatise  to  which  they  are  prefixed.  Johnson,  I 
believe,  did  not  play  at  draughts  after  leaving  College, 
by  which  he  suffered  ;  for  it  would  have  afforded  him 
an  innocent  soothing  relief  from  the  melancholy  which 
distressed  him  so  often.  I  have  heard  him  regret  that 
he  had  not  learnt  to  play  at  cards  ;  and  the  game  of 
draughts  we  know  is  peculiarly  calculated  to  fix  the  at- 
tention without  straining  it.  There  is  a  composure  and 
gravity  in  draughts  which  insensibly  tranquillises  the 
mind  ;  and,  accordingly,  the  Dutch  are  fond  of  it,  as 
thev  are  of  smoakins;,  of  the  sedative  intluence  of  which, 
though  he  himself  never  smoaked,  he  had  a  high  opin- 
ion.6 Besides,  there  is  in  draughts  some  exercise  of 
the  faculties  ;  and,  accordingly,  Johnson  wishing  to 
dignify  the  subject  in  his  Dedication  with  what  is  most 
estimable  in  it,  observes,  "  Triflers  may  find  or  make 
any  thing  a  trifle  :  but  since  it  is  the  great  character- 
istick  of  a  wise  man  to  see  events  in  their  causes,  to 
obviate  consequences,  and  ascertain  contingencies,  your 
Lordship  will  think  nothing  a  trifle  by  which  the  mind 
is  inured  to  caution,  foresight,  and  circumspection." 

As  one  of  the  little  occasional  advantages  which  he 
did  not  disdain  to  take  by   his  pen,  as  a  man  whose 

master  stigmatized  by  no  mean  pen,  but  that,  at  least,  one  would  be  found  to  re- 
fort.  Accordingly,  this  unjust  and  sarcastick  Epitaph  was  met  in  the  same  publick 
field  by  an  answer,  in  terms  by  no  means  soft,  and  such  as  wanton  provocation  on- 
Iv  could  justify  : 

"  Prepared  for  a  creature  not  quite  dead  yet. 

"  Here  lies  a  little  ugly  nauseous  elf, 

"  Who  judging  only  from  its  wretched  self, 

"  Feebly  attempted,  petulant  and  vain, 

"  The  '  Origin  of  Evil,'  to  explain. 

"  A  mighty  Genius  at  this  elf  displeas'd, 

"  With  a  strong  critick  grasp  the  urchin  squeez'd. 

"  For  thirty  years  its  coward  spleen  it  kept, 

'•  Till  in  the  dust  the  mighty  Genius  slept  ; 

"  Then  stunk  and  fretted  in  expiring  snuff, 

"  And  blink'd  at  Johnson  with  its  last  poor  puff.'' 

•  urnal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d  edit.  p.  4f . 

DR.    JOHNSON,  249 

profession  was  literature,  he  this  year  accepted  of  a  17.56. 
guinea  from   Mr.  Robert  Dodsley,   for  writing  the  in-  ^.^ 
traduction   to  "The   London   Chronicle/'   an  evening   47. 
news-paper;  and  even   in  so  slight  a  performance  ex- 
hibited peculiar  talents.     This  Chronicle  still  subsists, 
and  from  what  1  observed,  when  1  was   abroad,    has  a 
more  extensive  circulation   upon   the   Continent   than 
any  of  the   English   news-papers.     It   was  constantly 
read  by  Johnson  himself;  and  it  is  but  just  to  observe, 
that  it  has  all  along  been  distinguished  for  good"  sense, 
accuracy,  moderation,  and  delicacy. 

Another  instance  of  the  same  nature  has  been  com- 
municated tome  by  the  Reverend  Dr.  Thomas  Camp- 
bell, who  has  done  himself  considerable  credit  b}'  his 
own  writings.  "  Sitting  with  Dr.  Johnson  one  morning 
alone,  he  asked  me  if  1  had  known  Dr.  Madden,  who 
was  authour  of  the  premium-scheme7  in  Ireland.  On 
my  answering  in  the  affirmative,  and  also  that  1  had  for 
some  vears  lived  in  his  neighbourhood,  &c.  he  begged 
of  me  that  when  I  returned  to  Ireland,  1  would  endeav- 
our to  procure  for  him  a  poem  of  Dr.  Madden's  called 
"  Boulter's  Monument."3  The  reason  (said  he)  why 
I  wish  for  it,  is  this  :  when  Dr.  Madden  came  to  Lon- 
don, he  submitted  that  work  to  my  castigation  ;  and  I 
remember  I  blotted  a  great  many  lines,  and  might  have 
blotted  many  more  without  making  the  poem  worse.5 
However,  the  Doctor  was  very  thankful,  and  very  gen- 

7  [In  the  College  of  Dublin,  four  quarterly  examinations  of  the  students  are  held 
in  each  year,  in  various  prescribed  branches  of  literature  and  science ;  and  premi- 
ums, consisting  of  books  impressed  with  the  College  Arms,  are  adjudged  by  exam- 
iners to  those  who  have  most  distinguished  themselves  in  the  several  classes,  after 
a  very  rigid  trial,  which  lasts  two  days.  This  regulation,  which  has  subsisted 
about  seventy  years,  has  been  attended  with  the  most  beneficial  effects. 

Dr.  Samuel  Madden  was  the  first  proposer  of  premiums  in  that  University. 
They  were  instituted  about  the  year  1734.  He  was  also  one  of  the  founders  of 
the  Dublin  Society  for  the  encouragement  of  arts  and  agriculture.  In  addition 
to  the  premiums  which  were  and  are  still  annually  given  by  that  society  for  this 
purpose,  Dr.  Madden  gave  others  from  his  own  fund.  Hence  he  was  usually 
called  "  Premium  Madden."     M.] 

E  [Dr.  Hugh  Boulter,  Archbishop  of  Armagh,  and  Primate  of  Ireland.  He  died 
Sept.  27,  1742,  at  which  time  he  was,  for  the  thirteenth  time,  one  of  the  Lords 
Justices  of  that  kingdom.  Johnson  speaks  of  him  in  high  terms  of  commendation, 
in  his  Life  of  Ambrose  Phillips.     J.  B. — O.] 

9  [Dr.  Madden  wrote  very  bad  verses.  V.  those  prefixed  to  Leland's  Life  oj 
Philip  of  Macedon.  4to.  1  758.     K.] 

vol.  t. 

^•30  THE    LIFE    OF 

1756.  erous,  for  he  gave  me  ten  guineas,  which  was  to  me  at 

iEtat.  ^°^  ^/w<?  tt  great  sum. 

47.  He  this  year  resumed  his  scheme  of  giving  an  edi- 
tion of  Shakspeare  with  notes.  He  issued  Proposals 
of  considerable  length,'  in  which  he  shewed  that  he 
perfectly  well  knew  what  a  variety  of  research  such  an 
undertaking  required  ;  but  his  indolence  prevented 
him  from  pursuing  it  with  that  diligence  which  alone 
can  collect  those  scattered  facts,  that  genius,  however 
acute,  penetrating,  and  luminous,  cannot  discover  by- 
its  own  force,  it  is  remarkable,  that  at  this  time  his 
fancied  activity  was  for  the  moment  so  vigorous,  that 
he  promised  his  work  should  be  published  before 
Christmas,  1757*  Yet  nine  years  elapsed  before  it  saw 
the  light.  His  throes  in  bringing  it  forth  had  been  se- 
vere and  remittent  ;  and  at  last  we  may  almost  con- 
clude that  the  Caesarian  operation  was  performed  by 
the  knife  of  Churchill,  whose  upbraiding  satire,  I  dare 
say,  made  Johnson's  friends  urge  him  to  dispatch. 

"  He  for  subscribers  baits  his  hook, 

"  And  takes  your  cash  ;  but  where 's  the  book  ' 

"  No  matter  where  ;  wise  fear,  you  know, 

"  Forbids  the  robbing  of  a  foe  : 

"  But  what,  to  serve  our  private  ends, 

:'  Forbids  the  cheating  of  our  friends  ?" 

About  this  period  he  was  offered  a  living  of  con- 
siderable value  in  Lincolnshire,  if  he  were  inclined  to 
enter  into  holy  orders.  It  was  a  rectory  in  the  gift  of 
Mr.  Langton,  the  father  of  his  much  valued  friend. 
But  he  did  not  accept  of  it  ;  partly  I  believe  from  a 
conscientious  motive,  being  persuaded  that  his  temper 
and  habits  rendered  him  unfit  for  that  assiduous  and 
familiar  instruction  of  the  vulgar  and  ignorant,  which 
he  held  to  be  an  essential  duty  in  a  clergyman  ;  and 
partly  because  his  love  of  a  London  life  was  so  strong. 
that  he  would  have  thought  himself  an  exile  in  any 
other  place,  particularly  if  residing  in  the  country. 
Whoever  would   wish  to  see  his  thoughts   upon  that 

1  They  have  been  reprinted  by  Mr.  Malone  in  the  Preface  to  his  edition  of 

DR.    JOHNSON.  '231 

subject  displayed   in   their  full  force,   may  peruse  the  1757. 
Adventurer,  Number  126.  JEtat. 

In  l?o7  it  does  not  appear  that  he  published  any  48. 
thing-,  except  some  of  those  articles  in  the  Literary 
Magazine,  which  have  been  mentioned.  That  maga- 
zine, after  Johnson  ceased  to  write  in  it,  gradually  de- 
clined, though  the  popular  epithet  of  Antigallican  was 
added  to  it  ;  and  in  .July  17«5S  it  expired,  lie  proba- 
bly prepared  a  part  of  his  Shakspeare  this  year,  and  he 
dictated  a  speech  on  the  subject  of  an  address  to  the 
Throne,  after  the  expedition  to  Rochfort,  which  was 
delivered  by  one  of  his  friends,  I  know  not  in  what 
publick  meeting.  It  is  printed  in  the  Gentleman's 
Magazine  for  October  1785  as  his,  and  bears  sufficient 
marks  of  authenticity. 

By  the  favour  of  Mr.  Joseph  Cooper  Walker,  of  the 
Treasury,  Dublin,  1  have  obtained  a  copy  of  the  follow- 
ing letter  from  Johnson  to  the  venerable  authour  of 
"  Dissertations  on  the  History  of  Ireland." 



"    SIR, 

"  I  have  lately,  by  the  favour  of  Mr.  Faulkner, 
seen  your  account  of  Ireland,  and  cannot  forbear  to 
solicit  a  prosecution  of  your  design.  Sir  William  Tem- 
ple complains  that  Ireland  is  less  known  than  any 
other  country,  as  to  its  ancient  state.  The  natives  have 
had  little  leisure,  and  little  encouragement  for  enquiry; 
and  strangers,  not  knowing  the  language,  have  had  no 


"  I  have  long  wished  that   the  Irish  literature  were 
cultivated.5      Ireland  is   known  bv   tradition   to   have 


2  [Of  this  gentleman,  who  died  at  his  seat  at  Ballinegare,  in  the  county  of  Ros- 
common in  Ireland,  July  1,  1791,  in  his  82d  year,  some  account  may  be  found  in 
the  Gentleman's  Magazine  of  that  date.     M.] 

'  The  celebrated  oratour,  Mr.  Flood,  has  shown  himself  to  be  of  Dr.  Johnson's 
opinion  ;  having  by  his  will  bequeathed  his  estate,  after  the  death  of  his  wife  La- 
dy Frances,  to  the  University  of  Dublin  ;  "  desiring  that  immediately  after  the  said 
estate  shall  come  into  their  possession,  they  shall  appoint  two  professors,  one  for 
the  study  of  the  native  Erse  or  Irish  language,  and  the  other  for  the  study  of  Irish 
antiquities  and  Irish  history,  and  for  the  study  of  any  other  European  language  il- 
lustrative of,  or  auxiliary  to,  the  study  of  Irish  antiquities  or  Irish  history  ;  and 


THE    LIFE    OP 

J757-  been  once  the  seat  of  piety  and  learning  ;  and  surely  it 
Misd.  would  be  very  acceptable  to  all  those  who  are  curious 
48.    either  in  the  original  of  nations,  or  the  affinities  of  lan- 
guages, to  be  further  informed  of  the   revolution  of  a 
people  so  ancient,  and  once  so  illustrious. 

"  What  relation  there  is  between  the  Welsh  and 
Irish  language,  or  between  the  language  of  Ireland  and 
that  of  Biscay,  deserves  inquiry.  Of' these  provincial 
and  unextended  tongues,  it  seldom  happens  that  more 
than  one  are  understood  by  any  one  man  ;  and,  there- 
fore, it  seldom  happens  that  a  fair  comparison  can  be 
made.  I  hope  you  will  continue  to  cultivate  this  kind 
of  learning,  which  has  too  long  lain  neglected,  and 
which,  if  it  be  suffered  to  remain  in  oblivion  for  another 
century,  may,  perhaps,  never  be  retrieved.  As  I  wish 
well  to  all  useful  undertakings,  I  would  not  forbear  to 
let  you  know  how  much  you  deserve  in  my  opinion, 
from  all  lovers  of  study,  and  how  much  pleasure  your 
work  has  given  to,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  obliged, 

"  And  most  humble  servant, 
44  London,  April  %  17.57.  "  Sam.  Johnson/3 

"    DEAR  SIR, 

"  Dr.  Marstli  of  Padua,  a  learned  gentleman, 
and  good  Latin  poet,  has  a  mind  to  see  Oxford.  I 
have  given  him  a  letter  to  Dr.  Huddesford,*  and  shall 
be  glad  if  you  will  introduce  him,  and  shew  him  any 
thing  in  Oxford. 

"  I  am  printing  my  new  edition  of  Shakspeare. 

I  long  to  see  you  all,  but  cannot  conveniently 
come  yet.  You  might  write  to  me  now  and  then,  if 
you  were  good  for  any  thing.     But5    honores  mutant 

that  they  shall  give  yearly  two  liberal  premiums  for  two  compositions,  one  in 
verse,  and  the  other  in  prose,  in  the  Irish  language." 

[Since  the  above  was  written,  Mr.  Flood's  Will  has  been  set  aside,  after  a  trial  at 
bar,  in  the  Court  of  Exchequer  in  Ireland.     M.] 

4  "  Now,  or  late  Vice-Chancellor." 

"  Mr.  Warton  was  elected  Professor  of  Poetry  at  Oxford  in  the  preceding  y«r" 

DR.    JOHNSON.  2oi> 


mores.     Professors  forget   their  friends.     I   shall   cer-  1757. 
tainly  complain  to  Miss  Jones.6     1  am,  JJ£J 

"   Yours,  &c.  48. 

'■'  [London,]  June  21,  \7^>7-  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

"  Please  to  make  my  compliments  to  Mr.  Wise." 

Mr.  Burney  having  enclosed  to  him  an  extract  from 
the  review  of  his  Dictionary  in  the  Bibliotheque  des 
Savans,7  and  a  list  of  subscribers  to  his  Shakspeare, 
which  Mr.  Burney  had  procured  in  Norfolk,  he  wrote 
the  following  answer  : 

"    TO  MR.    BURNEY,  IN  LYNNE,    NORFOLK. 



"  That  I  may  show  myself  sensible  of  your  fa- 
vours, and  not  commit  the  same  fault  a  second  time,  I 
make  haste  to  answer  the  letter  which  1  received  this 
morning.  The  truth  is,  the  other  likewise  was  receiv- 
ed, and  I  wrote  an  answer  ;  but  being  desirous  to  trans- 
mit you  some  proposals  and  receipts,  I  waited  till  I 
could  find  a  convenient  conveyance,  and  day  was  pass- 
ed after  day,  till  other  things  drove  it  from  my  thoughts  ; 
yet  not  so,  but  that  I  remember  with  great  pleasure 
your  commendation  of  my  Dictionary.  Your  praise 
was  welcome,  not  only  because  1  believe  it  was  sincere, 
but  because  praise  has  been  very  scarce.  A  man  of 
your  candour  will  be  surprised  when  I  tell  you,  that 
among  all  my  acquaintance  there  were  only  two,  who 
upon  the  publication  of  my  book  did  not  endeavour  to 
depress  me  with  threats  of  censure  from  the  publick, 
or  with  objections  learned  from  those  who  had  learned 
them  from  my  own  preface.  Your's  is  the  only  letter 
of  good-will  that  1  have  received  ;  though,  indeed,  I 
am  promised  something  of  that  sort  from  Sweden. 

6  "  Miss  Jones  lived  at  Oxford,  and  was  often  of  our  parties.  She  was  a  very  in- 
genious poetess,  and  published  a  volume  of  poems  ;  and,  on  the  whole,  was  a  most 
sensible,  agreeable,  and  amiable  woman.  She  was  sister  to  the  Reverend  River 
Jones,  Chanter  of  Christ  Church  cathedral  at  Oxford,  and  Johnson  used  to  call  her 
the  Chant ress.    I  have  heard  him  often  address  her  in  this  passage  from  '  II  Pen- 

■5ER0SO  :' 

c  Thee,  Chantress,  oft  the  woods  among 
'  J  woo,'  &c. 
died  unmarried." 

■  Tom.  III.  p.  4S2, 

2.54*  THE    LIFE    OF 

1758.       «  How  my  new  edition8  will  be  received  1  know 
2^  not  ;  the  subscription  has  not  been  very  successful.     I 
49.   shall  publish  about  March. 

"  If  you  can  direct  me  how  to  send  proposals,  I 
should  wish  that  they  were  in  such  hands. 

"  I  remember,  Sir,  in  some  of  the  first  letters  with 
which  you  favoured  me,  you  mentioned  your  lady. 
May  I  enquire  after  her  ?  In  return  for  the  favours 
which  you  have  shewn  me,  it  is  not  much  to  tell  you, 
that  I  wish  you  and  her  all  that  can  conduce  to  your 
happiness.     I  am,  Sir, 

"   Your  most  obliged, 

"  And  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson."' 
••  Gough-s(juarey  Dec.  24,  17<57- 

In  17.58  we  find  him,  it  should  seem,  in  as  easy  and 
pleasant  a  state  of  existence,  as  constitutional  unhappi- 
ness  ever  permitted  him  to  enjoy. 




"  I  must  have  indeed  slept  very  fast,  not  to  have 
been  awakened  by  your  letter.  None  of  your  suspic- 
ions are  true  ;  I  am  not  much  richer  than  when  you 
left  me  ;  and,  what  is  worse,  my  omission  of  an  answer 
to  your  first  letter,  will  prove  that  I  am  not  much 
wiser.  But  I  go  on  as  I  formerly  did,  designing  to  be 
some  time  or  other  both  rich  and  wise  ;  and  yet  culti- 
vate neither  mind  nor  fortune.  Do  you  take  notice  of 
my  example,  and  learn  the  danger  of  delay.  When  I 
was  as  you  are  now,  towering  in  confidence  of  twenty- 
one,  little  did  I  suspect  that  I  should  be  at  forty-nine, 
what  I  now  am. 

"  But  you  do  not  seem  to  need  my  admonition. 
You  are  busy  in  acquiring  and  in  communicating 
knowledge,  and  while  you  are  studying,  enjoy  the  end 
of  study,  by  making  others  wiser  and  happier.     I  was 

3  Of  Shakspeare. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  255 


much  pleased  with  the  tale  that  you  told  me  of  being  1758 
tutour  to  your  sisters.  1,  who  have  no  sisters  nor  broth-  ^^ 
ers,  look  with  some  degree  of  innocent  envy  on  those  40. 
who  may  be  said  to  be  born  to  friends  ;  and  cannot  see, 
without  wonder,  how  rarelv  that  native  union  is  after- 
wards  regarded.  Jt  sometimes,  indeed,  happens,  that 
some  supervenient  cause  of  discord  may  overpower  this 
original  amity  ;  but  it  seems  to  me  more  frequently 
thrown  away  with  levity,  or  lost  by  negligence,  than 
destroyed  by  injury  or  violence.  We  tell  the  ladies 
that  good  wives  make  good  husbands  ;  I  believe  it  is  a 
more  certain  position  that  good  brothers  make  good  sis- 

"  I  am  satisfied  with  your  stay  at  home,  as  Juvenal 
with  his  friend's  retirement  to  Cumae  :  1  know  that 
vour  absence  is  best,  though  it  be  not  best  for  me. 


*  Quamvis  digressu  veteris  confusus  amici, 

'  Laudo    taw  en  vacuis  quod  sedem  ,/igere  Cumls 

6  Destine^  atque  unum  civem  donare  SibyMce' 

"  Langton  is  a  good  Cumce,  but  who  must  be  Sibylla  \ 
Mrs.  Langton  is  as  wise  as  Sibyl,  and  as  good  ;  and 
will  live,  if  my  wishes  can  prolong  life,  till  she  shall  in 
time  be  as  old.  But  she  differs  in  this,  that  she  has 
not  scattered  her  precepts  in  the  wind,  at  least  not  those 
which  she  bestowed  upon  you. 

"  The  two  Wartons  just  looked  into  the  town,  and 
were  taken  to  see  Cleone,  where,  David9  says,  they  were 
starved  for  want  of  company  to  keep  them  warm.  Da- 
vid and  Doddy1  have  had  a  new  quarrel,  and,  I  think, 
cannot  conveniently  quarrel  any  more.  4  Cleone'  was 
well  acted  by  all  the  characters,  but  Bellamy  left  noth- 
ing to  be  desired.  I  went  the  first  night,  and  support- 
ed it  as  well  as  I  might  ;  for  Doddy,  you  know,  is  my 
patron,  and  I  would  not  desert  him.  The  play  was 
very  well  received.  Doddy,  after  the  danger  was  over, 
went  every  night  to  the  stage-side,  and  cryed  at  the 
distress  of  poor  Cleone. 

Mr.  Garrick. 

Mr.  Dodslev,  the,  Authour  of  Ckc 

256  THE    LIFE    OF 

3  758.  "  I  have  left  off  housekeeping,  and  therefore  made 
presents  of  the  game  which  you  were  pleased  to  send 
me.  The  pheasant  I  gave  to  Mr.  Richardson,1  the 
bustard  to  Dr.  Lawrence,  and  the  pot  I  placed  with 
Miss  Williams,  to  be  eaten  bv  myself.  She  desires  that 
her  compliments  and  good  wishes  may  be  accepted  by 
the  family  ;  and  I  make  the  same  request  for  myself. 

"  Mr.  llevnolds  has  within  these  few  days  raised  his 
price  to  twenty  guineas  a  head,  and  Miss  is  much  em- 
ployed in  miniatures.  I  know  not  any  body  [else] 
whose  prosperity  has  encreased  since  you  left  them. 

"  Murphy  is  to  have  his  '  Orphan  of  China'  acted 
next  month  ;  and  is  therefore,  I  suppose,  happy.  I 
wish  1  could  tell  you  of  any  great  good  to  which  I  was 
approaching,  but  at  present  my  prospects  do  not  much 
delight  me  ;  however,  I  am  always  pleased  when  1  find 
that  you,  dear  Sir,  remember, 

"  Your  affectionate,  humble  servant, 
"  Jan.  9,  17-58.  "  Sam.  Johxsox." 

"  SIR, 

"  Your  kindness  is  so  great,  and  my  claim  to  any 
particular  regard  from  you  so  little,  that  I  am  at  a  loss 
how  to  express  my  sense  of  your  favours  ;3  but  I  am, 
indeed,  much  pleased  to  be  thus  distinguished  by  you. 

"  I  am  ashamed  to  tell  you  that  my  Shakspeare  will 
not  be  out  so  soon  as  1  promised  my  subscribers  :  but 
I  did  not  promise  them  more  than  I  promised  myself, 
ft  will,  however,  be  published  before  summer. 

"  I  have  sent  you  a  bundle  of  proposals,  which,  I 
think,  do  not  profess  more  than  1  have  hitherto  per- 
formed. I  have  printed  many  of  the  plays,  and  have- 
hitherto  left  very  few  passages  unexplained  ;  where  I 
am  quite  at  loss,  I  confess  my  ignorance,  which  is  sel- 
dom done  by  commentators. 

"  1  have,  likewise,  inclosed  twelve  receipts  ;  not  that 
I  mean  to  impose   upon  you   the   trouble  of  pushing 

-  Mr.  Samuel  Richardson,  Authour  of  Clarissa. 

•  This  letter  was  an  answer,  to  one  in  which  was  enclosed  a  draft  for  the  pay- 
aent  '/some  subscriptions  to  h>s  Shakspeare. 

DR.   JOHNSON.  5.57 

them,  with  more  importunity  than  may  seem  proper,  1758. 
but  that  you  may  rather   have   more   than   fewer   than  jEtafc. 
you  shall  want.     The  proposals  you  will  disseminate  as   49. 
there  shall  be  an  opportunity.     1  once  printed  them  at 
length  in  the  Chronicle,  and  some  of  my  friends  (I  be- 
lieve Mr.  Murphy,  who  formerly  wrote  the  GrayVInn 
Journal)  introduced  them  with  a  splendid  encomium. 

"  Since  the  Life  of  Browne,  I  have  been  a  little  en- 
gaged, from  time  to  time,  in  the  Literary  Magazine, 
but  not  very  lately.  I  have  not  the  collection  by  me, 
and  therefore  cannot  draw  out  a  catalogue  of  my  own 
parts,  but  will  do  it,  and  send  it.  Do  not  buy  them, 
for  I  will  gather  all  those  that  have  anv  thing;  of  mine 
in  them,  and  send  them  to  Mrs.  Burnev,  as  a  small 
token  of  gratitude  for  the  regard  which  she  is  pleased 
to  bestow  upon  me. 

"  I  am,  Sir, 
"  Your  most  obliged 

"  And  most  humble  servant, 
''*  London,  March  8,  1758.  "  Sam.  Johnson/'' 

Dr.  Burney  has  kindly  favoured  me  with  the  follow- 
ing  memorandum,  which  I  take  the  liberty  to  insert  in 
his  own  genuine  easy  style.  I  love  to  exhibit  sketches 
of  my  illustrious  friend  by  various  eminent  hands. 

"  Soon  after  this,  Mr.  Burney,  during  a  visit  to  the 
capital,  had  an  interview  with  him  in  Gough-square, 
where  he  dined  and  drank  tea  with  him,  and  was  in- 
troduced to  the  acquaintance  of  Mrs.  Williams.  After 
dinner,  Mr.  Johnson  proposed  to  Mr.  Burney  to  go  up 
with  him  into  his  garret,  which  being  accepted,  he 
there  found  about  five  or  six  Greek  folios,  a  deal  writ- 
ing desk,  and  a  chair  and  a  hair".  Johnson  giving  to 
his  guest  the  entire  seat,  tottered  himself  on  one  with 
only  three  legs  and  one  arm.  Here  he  gave  Mr.  Bur- 
ney Mrs.  Williams's  history,  and  shewed  him  some 
volumes  of  his  Shakspeare  already  printed,  to  prove  that 
he  was  in  earnest.  Upon  Mr.  tourney's  opening  the  first 
volume,  at  the  Merchant  of  Venice,  he  observed  to 
him,  that  he  seemed  to  be  more  severe  on  Warburton 
than  rheobald.     '  O  poor  Tib.  !   (said  Johnson)  he  was 

vol.  t.  J 

258  THE    LIFE    OF 

i?58.  ready  knocked  down  to  my  hands  ;  Warburton  stands 
JeJ^  between  me  and  him/  '  But,  Sir,  (said  Mr.  Burney,) 
49.  "you'll  have  Warburton  upon  your  bones,  won't  you  V 
4  No,  Sir  ;  he'll  not  come  out :  he'll  only  growl  in  his 
den.'  '  But  you  think,  Sir,  that  Warburton  is  a  supe- 
riour  critick  to  Theobald  V — '  O,  Sir,  he'd  make  two- 
and-fifty  Theobalds,  cut  into  slices  !  The  worst  of  War- 
burton is,  that  he  has  a  rage  for  saying  something,  when 
there's  nothing  to  be  said.' — Mr.  Burnev  then  asked 
him  whether  he  had  seen  the  letter  which  Warburton 
had  written  in  answer  to  a  pamphlet  addressed  '  To  the 
most  impudent  Man  alive.'  He  answered  in  the  neg- 
ative. Mr.  Burney  told  him  it  was  supposed  to  be 
written  by  Mallet.  The  controversy  now  raged  be- 
tween the  friends  of  Pope  and  Bolingbroke  ;  and  War- 
burton and  Mallet  were  the  leaders  of  the  several  par- 
ties. Mr.  Burney  asked  him  then  if  he  had  seen  War- 
burton's  book  against  Bolingbroke's  Philosophy  1  '  No, 
Sir ;  I  have  never  read  Bolingbroke's  impiety,  and 
therefore  am  not  interested  about  its  confutation." 

On  the  fifteenth  of  April  he  began  a  new  periodical 
paper,  entitled  "The  Idler,"*  which  came  out  every 
Saturday  in  a  weekly  news-paper,  called  "  The  Univer- 
sal Chronicle,  or  Weekly  Gazette,"  published  by  New- 
bery.  These  essays  were  continued  till  April  5,  17(0. 
Of  one  hundred  and  three,  their  total  number,  twelve 
were  contributed  by  his  friends  ;  of  which,  Numbers 
.33,  93,  and  96,  were  written  by  Mr.  Thomas  Warton  ; 
No.  67  by  Mr.  Langton  ;  and  No.  76,  79,  and  82,  by 
Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  ;  the  concluding  words  of  No.  82, 
"  and  pollute  his  canvas  with  deformity,"  being  added 
by  Johnson  ;  as  Sir  Joshua  informed  me. 

The  Idler  is  evidently  the  work  of  the  same  mind 
which  produced  the  Rambler,  but  has  less  body  and 
more  spirit.  It  has  more  variety  of  real  life,  and  greater 
facility  of  language.  He  describes  the  miseries  of  idle- 
ness, with  the  lively  sensations  of  one  who  has  felt 
them  ;  and  in  his  private  memorandums  while  engaged 
in  it,  we  find,  "This  year  I  hope  to  learn  diligence."* 
Manv  of  these  excellent  essays  were  written  as  hastily 

4  Prayers  and  Meditations,  p.  30, 

DR.    JOHXSON.  259 

as  an  ordinary  letter.     Mr.  Langton   remembers  John-  1758. 
son,  when  on  a  visit  at  Oxford,  asking  him  one  evening  jTt^ 
how  long  it  was  till  the  post  went  out;  and  on  being   49. 
told  about  half  an  hour,  he  exclaimed,  "then  we  shall 
do  very  well."     lie   upon  this  instantly  sat  down  and 
finished  an  Idler,  which  it  was  necessary  should  be  in 
London  the  next  day.     Mr.  Langton   having  signified 
a  wish  to  read  it,  "  Sir,  (said  he)  you  shall  not  do  more 
than  1  have  done  myself."     He  then  folded  it  up,  and 
sent  it  off. 

Yet  there  are  in  the  Idler  several  papers  which  shew 
as  much  profundity  of  thought,  and  labour  of  language, 
as  any  of  this  great  man's  writings.  No.  14,  "  Robbery 
of  time;"  No.  S4,  "Thinking;"  No.  41,  "Death  of  a 
friend;"  No.  43,  "Flight  of  time ;"  No.  51,  "  Domes- 
tick  greatness  unattainable;"  No.  52,  "  Self-denial ;3 
No.  58,  "  Actual,  how  short  of  fancied,  excellence  ;' 
No.  89,  "  Physical  evil  moral  good  ;"  and  his  conclud- 
ing paper  on  "The  horrour  of  the  last,"  will  prove  this 
assertion.  I  know  not  why  a  motto,  the  usual  trapping 
of  periodical  papers  is  prefixed  to  very  few  of  the  Idlers, 
as  I  have  heard  Johnson  commend  the  custom  :  and 
he  never  could  be  at  a  loss  for  one,  his  memory  being 
stored  with  innumerable  passages  of  the  classicks.  In 
this  series  of  essays  he  exhibits  admirable  instances  of 
grave  humour,  of  which  he  had  an  uncommon  share. 
Nor  on  some  occasions  has  he  repressed  that  power  of 
sophistry  which  he  possessed  in  so  eminent  a  degree.  In 
No.  11,  he  treats  with  the  utmost  contempt  the  opinion 
that  our  mental  faculties  depend,  in  some  degree,  upon 
the  weather  ;  an  opinion,  which  they  who  have  never 
experienced  its  truth  are  not  to  be  envied,  and  of  which 
he  himself  could  not  but  be  sensible,  as  the  effects  of 
weather  upon  him  were  very  visible.  Yet  thus  he  de- 
claims :  "  Surely,  nothing  is  more  reproachful  to  a  be- 
ing endowed  with  reason,  than  to  resign  its  powers  to 
the  influence  of  the  air,  and  live  in  dependence  on  the 
weather  and  the  wind  for  the  only  blessings  which  na- 
ture  has  put  into  our  power,  tranquillity  and  benevo- 
lence.— This  distinction  of  seasons  is  produced  only  by 
imagination  operating  on  luxury.    To  temperance, every 

260  THE    LIFE    OF 

1758.  day  is  bright;  and  every  hour  is  propitious  to  diligence. 

a^'T  He  that  shall  resolutely  excite  his  faculties,  or  exert 

49.    his  virtues,  will   soon   make   himselt  supenour  to  the 

seasons  :  and  may  set  at  defiance  the  morning  mist  and 

the  evening  damp,  the  blasts  of  the  east,  and  the  clouds 

of  the  south." 

Alas  !  it  is  too  certain,  that  where  the  frame  has  del- 
icate fibres,  and  there  is  a  fine  sensibility,  such  influ- 
ences of  the  air  are  irresistible.  He  might  as  well  have 
bid  defiance  to  the  ague,  the  palsy,  and  all  other  bodily 
disorders.     Such  boasting;  of  the  mind  is  false  elevation. 

"  I  think  the  Romans  call  it  Stoicism." 

But  in  this  number  of  his  Idler  his  spirits  seem  to  run 
riot ;  for  in  the  wantonness  of  his  disquisition  he  for- 
gets, for  a  moment,  even  the  reverence  for  that  which 
he  held  in  high  respect ;  and  describes  "  the  attendant 
on  a  Court"  as  one  "  whose  business  is  to  watch  the 
looks  of  a  being,  weak  and  foolish  as  himself." 

His  unqualified  ridicule  of  rhetorical  gesture  or  ac- 
tion is  not,  surely,  a  test  of  truth ;  yet  we  cannot  help 
admiring  how  well  it  is  adapted  to  produce  the  effect 
which  he  wished.  "  Neither  the  judges  of  our  laws, 
nor  the  representatives  of  our  people,  would  be  much 
affected  by  laboured  gesticulations,  or  believe  any  man 
the  more  because  he  rolled  his  eyes,  or  puffed  his 
cheeks,  or  spread  abroad  his  arms,  or  stamped  the 
ground,  or  thumped  his  breast ;  or  turned  his  e\ 
sometimes  to  the  ceiling,  and  sometimes  to  the  floor." 

A  casual  coincidence  with  other  writers,  or  an  adop- 
tion of  a  sentiment  or  image  which  has  been  found  in 
the  writings  of  another,  and  afterwards  appears  in  the 
mind  as  one's  own,  is  not  unfrequent.  The  richness 
of  Johnson's  fancy,  which  could  supply  his  page  abun-. 
dantly  on  all  occasions,  and  the  strength  of  his  memoi ■;. . 
which  at  once  detected  the  real  owner  of  any  thought, 
made  him  less  liable  to  the  imputation  of  plagiarism 
than,  perhaps,  any  of  our  writers.  In  the  Idler,  how- 
ever, there  is  a  paper,  in  which  conversation  is  assim- 
ilated to  a  bowl  of  punch,  where  there  is  the  same 
train  of  comparison  as  in  a  poem  by  Blacklock,  in  his 

DR.    JOHNSON.  261 

collection  published  in  17-56  ;  in  which  a  parallel  is  in-  1758. 
geniously  drawn  between  human  life  and  that  liquor,  jg^ 
It  ends,  49. 

"  Say,  then,  physicians  of  each  kind, 
"  Who  cure  the  body  or  the  mind, 
"  What  harm  in  drinking  can  there  be, 
"  Since  punch  and  life  so  well  agree  I" 

To  the  Idler,  when  collected  in  volumes,  he  added, 
beside  the  Essay  on  Epitaphs,  and  the  Dissertation  on 
those  of  Pope,  an  Essay  on  the  Bravery  of  the  English 
common  Soldiers.  He,  however,  omitted  one  of  the 
original  papers,  which  in  the  folio  copy,  is  No.  22. s 

"    DEAR  SIR, 

"  Your  notes  upon  my  poet  were  very  accepta- 
ble. I  beg  that  you  will  be  so  kind  as  to  continue 
your  searches.  It  will  be  reputable  to  my  work,  and 
suitable  to  your  professorship,  to  have  something  of 
yours  in  the  notes.  As  you  have  given  no  directions 
about  your  name,  I  shall  therefore  put  it.  I  wrish  your 
brother  would  take  the  same  trouble.  A  commentary 
must  arise  from  the  fortuitous  discoveries  of  many  men 
in  devious  walks  of  literature.  Some  of  your  remarks 
are  on  plays  already  printed  :  but  1  purpose  to  add  an 
Appendix  of  Notes,  so  that  nothing  comes  too  late. 

"  You  give  yourself  too  much  uneasiness,  dear  Sir, 
about  the  loss  of  the  papers. 6  The  loss  is  nothing,  if 
nobody  has  found  them  ;  nor  even  then,  perhaps,  if  the 
numbers  be  known.  You  are  not  the  only  friend  thai 
has  had  the  same  mischance.  You  may  repair  your 
want  out  of  a  stock,  which  is  deposited  with  Mr.  Allen, 
of  Magdalen-Hall  ;  or  out  of  a  parcel  which  I  have 
just  sent  to  Mr.  Chambers7  for  the  use  of  any  body 
that  will  be  so  kind  as  to  want  them.     Mr.  Langtons 

5  This  paper  may  be  found  in  Stockdale's  supplemental  volume,  of  Johnson's 
Miscellaneous  Pieces. 

6  "  Receipts  for  Shakspeare." 

'  "  Then  of  Lincoln  College.     Now  Sir  Robert  Chambers,  one  of  the  Judges  in 

262  THE    LIFE    OF 

1758.  are  well  ;    and  Miss  Roberts,  whom  I  have  at  last 
2J^  brought  to  speak,  upon  the  information  which  you  gave 
49.    me,  that  she  had  something  to  say. 

"  I  am,  &c. 
"  [London,']  April  14,  1758.  "  Sam.  Johnson/-' 

"    DEAR  SIR, 

"  You  will  receive  this  by  Mr.  Baretti,  a  gentle,- 
man  particularly  intitled  to  the  notice  and  kindness  of 
the  Professor  of  poesy.  He  has  time  but  for  a  short 
stay,  and  will  be  glad  to  have  it  filled  up  with  as  much 
as  he  can  hear  and  see. 

"  In  recommending  another  to  your  favour,  I  ought 
not  to  omit  thanks  for  the  kindness  which  you  have 
shewn  to  myself.  Have  you  any  more  notes  on  Shak- 
speare  ?  I  shall  be  glad  of  them. 

"  I  see  your  pupil  sometimes,8  his  mind  is  as  exalt- 
ed as  his  stature.  1  am  half  afraid  of  him  ;  but  he  is 
no  less  amiable  than  formidable.  He  will,  if  the  for- 
wardness of  his  spring  be  not  blasted,  be  a  credit  to 
you,  and  to  the  University.  He  brings  some  of  my 
plays9  with  him,  which  he  has  my  permission  to  shew 
you,  on  condition  you  will  hide  them  from  every  body 

"  I  am,  dear  Sir,  &c. 
i:  [London,]  June  1,  1758.  "  Sam.  Johnson. ** 


"    DEAR  SIR, 

"  Though  I  might  have  expected  to  hear  from 
sou,  upon  your  entrance  into  a  new  state  of  life  at  a 
new  place,  yet  recollecting,  (not  without  some  degree 
of  shame,}  that  I  owe  you  a  letter  upon  an  old  account, 
1  think  it  my  part  to  write  first.  This,  indeed,  1  do 
not  only  from  complaisance  but  from  interest  ;  for  liv- 
ing on  in  the  old  way,  I  am  very  glad  of  a  correspond- 

3 "  Mr.  Langton." 

" "  Part  of  the  impression  of  the  Shakspeare,  which  Dr.  Johnson  conducted  alone. 
and  published  by  subscription.    This  edition  came  out  ia  1765." 

DR.   JOHNSON.  263 

ent  so  capable  as  yourself,  to  diversify  the  hours.  You  1758.1 
have,  at  present,  too  many  novelties  about  you  to  need  ^£ut! 
any  help  from  me  to  drive  along  your  time.  49. 

"  1  know  not  any  thing  more  pleasant,  or  more  in- 
structive, than  to  compare  experience  with  expectation, 
or  to  register  from  time  to  time  the  difference  between 
idea  and  reality.  It  is  by  this  kind  of  observation  that 
we  grow  daily  less  liable  to  be  disappointed.  You, 
who  are  very  capable  of  anticipating  futurity,  and  rais- 
ing phantoms  before  your  own  eyes,  must  often  have 
imagined  to  yourself  an  academical  life,  and  have  con- 
ceived what  would  be  the  manners,  the  views,  and  the 
Mitversation,  of  men  devoted  to  letters  ;  how  they 
would  choose  their  companions,  how  they  would  direct 
their  studies,  and  how  they  would  regulate  their  lives. 
Let  me  know  what  you  expected,  and  what  you  have 
found.  At  least  record  it  to  yourself  before  custom 
has  reconciled  you  to  the  scenes  before  you,  and  the 
disparity  of  your  discoveries  to  your  hopes  has  vanished 
from  your  mind.  It  is  a  rule  never  to  be  forgotten, 
that  whatever  strikes  stron^'lv,  should  be  described 
while  the  first  impression  remains  fresh  upon  the  mind. 

"  I  love,  dear  Sir,  to  think  on  you,  and  therefore, 
should  willingly  write  more  to  you,  but  that  the  post 
will  not  now  eive  me  leave  to  do  more  than  send  mv 
compliments  to  Mr.  Warton,  and  tell  you  that  I  am, 
dear  Sir,  most  affectionately, 

"  Your  very  humble  servant, 

"  June  2S,  17-58.  -  Sam.  Johnson." 

•:°    TO    BENNET     LANGTON,     ESQ.     AT     LANGTON,     NEAR 

c;    DEAR  SIR 

"  I  should  be  sorry  to  think  that  what  engrosses 
the  attention  of  my  friend,  should  have  no  part  of  mine. 
Your  mind  is  now  full  of  the  fate  of  Dury  ; '  but  his 

1  Major  General  Alexander  Dury,  of  the  first  regiment  of  foot-guards,  who  fell 
in  the  gallant  discharge  of  his  duty,  near  St.  Cas,  in  the  well-known  unfortunate 
expedition  against  France,  in  1758.  His  lady  and  Mr/Langton's  mother  were  sis- 
ters. He  left  an  only  son,  Lieutennnt-Colonel  Dury,  who  has  a  company  in  the 
same  regiment. 

S64  THE    LIFE    OF 

1758.  fate  is  past,  and  nothing  remains  but  to  try  what  re- 
JEtaT  flectJ°n  wiM  suggest  to  mitigate  the  terrours  of  a  violent 
49.  '  death,  which  is  more  formidable  at  the  first  glance, 
than  on  a  nearer  and  more  steady  view.  A  violent 
death  is  never  very  painful  ;  the  only  danger  is,  lest  it 
should  be  unprovided.  But  if  a  man  can  be  supposed 
to  make  no  provision  for  death  in  war,  what  can  be  the 
state  that  would  have  awakened  him  to  the  care  of  fu- 
turity ?  When  would  that  man  have  prepared  himself 
to  die,  who  went  to  seek  death  without  preparation  ? 
What  then  can  be  the  reason  why  we  lament  more  him 
that  dies  of  a  wound,  than  him  that  dies  of  a  fever  ?  A 
man  that  languishes  with  disease,  ends  his  life  with  more 
pain,  but  with  less  virtue  :  he  leaves  no  example  to  his 
friends,  nor  bequeaths  any  honour  to  his  descendants. 
The  only  reason  why  we  lament  a  soldier's  death,  is, 
that  we  think  he  might  have  lived  longer  ;  yet  this 
cause  of  grief  is  common  to  many  other  kinds  of  death, 
which  are  not  so  passionately  bewailed.  The  truth  is, 
that  every  death  is  violent  which  is  the  effect  of  acci- 
dent ;  every  death,  which  is  not  gradually  brought  on 
by  the  miseries  of  age,  or  when  life  is  extinguished  for 
any  other  reason  than  that  it  is  burnt  out.  He  that 
dies  before  sixty,  of  a  cold  or  consumption,  dies,  in 
reality,  by  a  violent  death  ;  yet  his  death  is  borne  with 
patience,  only  because  the  cause  of  his  untimely  end  is 
silent  and  invisible.  Let  us  endeavour  to  see  things  as 
they  are,  and  then  enquire  whether  we  ought  to  com- 
plain. Whether  to  see  life  as  it  is,  will  give  us  much 
consolation,  I  know  not  :  but  the  consolation  which  is 
drawn  from  truth,  if  any  there  be,  is  solid  and  durable  : 
that  which  may  be  derived  from  errour,  must  be,  like 
its  original,  fallacious  and  fugitive.  I  am,  dear,  dear 
Sir,  your  most  humble  servant, 

"  Sept.  31,  1758.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

In  1759,  in  the  month  of  January,  his  mother  died 
at  the  great  age  of  ninety,  an  event  which  deeply  af- 
fected him  ;  not  that  "  his  mind  had  acquired  no  firm- 
ness by  the  contemplation  of  mortality  ;z  but  that  his 

2  Hawkins's  Life  of  Johnson,  p.  395. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  265 

reverential  affection  for  Ik  r  was  nor  abated  by  years,  as  1759. 
indeed  he  retained  all    his  tender   feelings  even  to  the  jgt^ 
latest  period  of  his  life.     1  hav(   been  told,  that  he  re-   50. 
gretted  much  his  not  having  gone  to  visit  his  mother 
for  several  years,  previous  to  her  death.     But  he  was 
constantly  engaged  in  literary  labours  which  confined 
him  to  London  ;  and  though  he  had   not  the  comfort 
of  seeing  his  aged  parent,  he  contributed  liberally  to  her 




"  The  account  which  Miss  [Porter]  gives  me  of 
your  health,  pierces  my  heart.  God  comtbrt,  and  pre- 
serve you,  and  save  you,  for  the  sake  of  Jesus  Christ. 

"  I  would  have  Miss  read  to  you  from  time  to  time 
the  Passion  of  our  Saviour,  and  sometimes  the  senten- 
ces in  the  Communion  Service,  beginning — Come  unto 
me,  all  ye  that  travel  and  are  heavy  laden,  and  I  will 
give  you  rest. 

"  I  have  just  now  read  a  physical  book,  which  in- 
clines me  to  think  that  a  strong  infusion  of  the  bark 
would  do  you  good.     Do,  dear  Mother,  try  it. 

"  Pray,  send  me  your  blessing,  and  forgive  all  that] 
have  done  amiss  to  vou.  And  whatever  you  would 
have  done,  and  what  debts  you  would  have  paid  first, 
or  any  thing  else  that  you  would  direct,  let  Miss  put  it 
down  ;  I  shall  endeavour  to  obey  you. 

"  I  have  got  twelve  guineas3  to  send  you,  but  un- 
happily am  at  a  loss  how  to  send  it  to-night.  If  I  can- 
not send  it  to-night,  it  will  come  by  the  next  post, 

2  [Since  the  publication  of  the  third  edition  of  this  work,  the  following  letters  c  I 
Dr.  Johnson,  occasioned  bv  the  lust  illness  of  his  mother,  were  obligingly  commu- 
nicated to  Mr.  Malone  by  the  Rev.  Dr.  Vyse.  They  are  placed  here  agreeably  to 
the  chronological  order  almost  uniformly  observed  by  the  authour  ;  and  so  strong- 
ly evince  Dr.  Johnson's  piety,  and  tenderness  of  heart,  that  every  reader  must  be 
gratified  by  their  insertion.     M.] 

1  [Six  of  these  twelve  guineas  Johnson  appears  to  have  borrowed  from  Mr.  M~ 
len,  the  Printer.     See  Hawkins's  Life  of  Johnson,  p.  SW.  n.     M.i 

VOL.   T.  34 

^66  IHE    LIFE    OF 

1759.       "  prayj  cjo  not  omit  any  thing  mentioned  in  this 
^taL  letter.     God  bless  you  for  ever  and  ever. 
50.  "  I  am 

Your  dutiful  Son, 
"  Jan.  13,  175S.*  "  Sam.  Johnson/' 





"  I  think  myself  obliged  to  you  beyond  all  ex- 
pression of  gratitude  for  your  care  of  my  dear  mother. 
God  grant  it  may  not  be  without  success.  Tell  Kitty, s 
that  1  shall  never  forget  her  tenderness  for  her  mistress. 
Whatever  you  can  do,  continue  to  do.  My  heart  is 
very  full. 

"  I  hope  you  received  twelve  guineas  on  Monday. 
I  found  a  way  of  sending  them  by  means  of  the  Post- 
master, after  I  had  written  my  letter,  and  hope  they 
came  safe.  I  will  send  you  more  in  a  few  days.  God 
bless  you  all. 

"  I  am,  my  dear, 
"  Your  most  obliged 
"  And  most  humble  Servant, 
"'•  Jan.  16,  17<39-  "  Sam.  Johnson. 

"  Over  the  leaf  is  a  letter  to  my  mother. 



"  Your  weakness  afflicts  me  beyond  what  I  am 
willing  to  communicate  to  you.  I  do  not  think  you 
unfit  to  face  death,  but  1  know  not  how  to  bear  the 
thought  of  losing  you.  Endeavour  to  do  all  you  [can] 
for  yourself.     Eat  as  much  as  you  can. 

4  [Written  by  mistake  for  1759,  as  the  subsequent  letters  shew.  In  the  next  let- 
ter, he  had  inadvertently  fallen  into  the  same  errour  but  corrected  it.  On  the  out- 
side of  the  letter  of  the  1 3th  was  written  by  another  hand — f  Pray,  acknowledge 
the  receipt  of  this  by  return  of  the  post,  without  fail."     M.] 

s  [Catharine  Chambers,  Mrs.  Johnson's  maid-servant.  She  died  in  October, 
1767.  See  Dr.  Johnson's  Prayers  and  Meditations,  p.  71  ;  "  Sunday,  Oct 
18,  1767.  Yesterday,  Oct.  17,  I  took  my  leave  for  ever  of  my  dear  old  friend, 
Catharine  Chambers,  who  came  to  live  with  my  mother  about  1 724,  and  has  been 
but  little  parted  from  us  since.  She  buried  my  father,  my  brother,  and  my  moth- 
er.    She  is  now  fifty-eight  years  old."     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  26? 

"  I   Pray  often  for  you  ;  do  you   pray  for  me. — 1 1759. 
have  nothing  to  add  to  my  last  letter.  jEtaT 

':  I  am,  dear,  dear  Mother,  50. 

"   Your  dutiful  Son, 
"  Jan.  10',  1759.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 


"  I  fear  you  are  too  ill  for  long  letters  ;  there- 
fore I  will  only  tell  you,  you  have  from  me  all  the  re- 
gard that  can  possibly  subsist  in  the  heart.  I  pray 
God  to  bless  you  for  evermore,  for  Jesus  Christ's  sake. 
"  Let  Miss  write  to  me  every  post,  however  short. 
"  I  am,  dear  Mother, 

"  Your  dutiful  Son, 
"  Jan.  18,  17-59.  ';  Sam.  Johnson." 

:'    DEAR  MISS, 

"   I  wtll,  if  it  be  possible,  come  down  to  you. 
God  grant  I  may  yet  [find]  my  clear  mother  breathing 
and  sensible.     Do  not  tell  her,  lest  I  disappoint  hes. 
If  J  miss  to  write  next  post,  I  am  on  the  road. 
"  I  am, 

"  My  dearest  Miss, 

"   Your  most  humble  servant, 
"  Jan.  20,  1759.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

"   On  the  other  side?' 


"  Neither  your  condition  nor  your  character 
make  it  fit  for  me  to  say  much.  You  have  been  the 
best  mother,  and  I  believe  the  best  woman  in  the 
world.  1  thank  you  for  your  indulgence  to  me,  and 
beg  forgiveness  of  all  that  I  have  done  ill,  and  all  that 

«  [This  letter  was  written  oq  the  second  leaf  ©f  the  preceding,  addressed  to  Misa 
Porter.     M.] 

26S  1HE    LIFE    OF 

1.759.  I  have  omitted  to  do  well.7      God  grant  you  his  Holy 
SaT  Spirit,  and   receive  you   to  everlasting  happiness,  for 
50. "  Jesus  Christ's  sake.     Amen.     Lord  Jesus  receive  your 
spirit.     Amen. 

"  I  am,  dear,  dear  Mother, 

"  Your  dutiful  Son, 
"  Jan.  20,  17o9*  "  Sam.  Johnson.1' 


"  You  will  conceive  my  sorrow  for  the  loss  of  my 
mother,  of  the  best  mother,  if  she  were  to  live  again, 
surely  I  should  behave  better  to  her.  Hut  she  is  hap- 
py, and  what  is  past  is  nothing  to  her  ;  and  for  me, 
since  1  cannot  repair  my  faults  to  her,  I  hope  repent- 
ance will  efface  them.  I  return  you  and  all  those  that 
have  been  good  to  her  my  sincerest  thanks,  and  pray 
God  to  repay  you  all  with  infinite  advantage.  Write 
to  me,  and  comfort  me,  dear  child.  1  shall  be  glad 
likewise,  if  Kitty  will  write  to  me.  I  shall  send  a  bill 
of  twenty  pounds  in  a  few  days,  which  I  thought  to 
have  brought  to  my  mother  ;  but  God  suffered  it  not. 
I  have  not  power  or  composure  to  say  much  more. 
God  bless  you,  and  bless  us  all. 
"  I  am,  dear  Miss, 

"  Your  affectionate  humble  servant, 
"  Jan.  23,  17-59. 8  "  Sam.  Johnson 

,  » 

Soon  after  this  event,  he  wrote  his  "  Rasselas, 
Prince  of  Abyssinia  ;*  concerning  the  publication 
of  which  Sir  John  Hawkins  guesses  vaguely  and  idly, 
instead  of  having  taken  the  trouble  to  inform  himself 
with  authentick  precision.  Not  to  trouble  my  readers 
with  a  repetition  of  the  Knight's  reveries,  1  have  to 
mention,  that  the  late  Mr.  Strahan  the  printer  told  me, 

'  [So,  in  the  Prayer  which  he  composed  on  this  occasion  :  "  Almighty  God, 
merciful  Father,  in  whose  hands  are  life  and  death,  sanctify  unto  me  the  sorrow 
which  I  now  feel.  Forgive  me  -whatever  I  have  done  unkindly  to  my  mother,  and  what- 
ever I  have  omitted  to  do  kindly.  Make  me  to  remember  her  good  precepts  and  good 
example,  and  to  reform  my  life  according  to  thy  holy  word,  &c.  Prayers  and 
Meditations,  p.  31.     M.] 

p  [Mrs.  Johnson  probably  died  on  the  20th  or  21st  of  January,  and  was  buried 
on  the  day  this  letter  was  written.     M.j 

MR.    JOHNSON.  i'69 

that  Johnson  wrote   it,   that  with  the  profits  he  might  '759. 
defray   the   expence    of  his  mother's  funeral,  and  pay  g£^ 
some  little  debts  which  she  had  left.      lie   told  Sir   50. 
Joshua  Reynolds,  that  he  composed  it  in  the  evenings 
of  one  week,9  sent  it  to  the  press  in  portions  as  it  was 
written,  and  had  never  since  read  it  over.1      Mr.  Stra- 
han,  Air.   Johnston,  and  Mr.  Dodsley,  purchased  it  for 
a  hundred   pounds,   but  afterwards   paid   him  twenty- 
five  pounds  more,  when  it  came  to  a  second  edition. 

Considering  the  lanre  sums  which  have  been  receiv- 
ed  for  compilations,  and  works  requiring  not  much 
more  genius  than  compilations,  we  cannot  but  wonder 
at  the  very  low  price  which  he  was  content  to  receive 
for  this  admirable  performance  ;  which,  though  he  had 
written  nothing  else,  would  have  rendered  his  name 
immortal  in  the  world  of  literature.  None  of  his  wri- 
tings has  been  so  extensively  diffused  over  Europe  ; 
for  it  has  been  translated  into  most,  if  not  all,  of  the 
modern  languages.  This  Tale,  with  all  the  charms  of 
oriental  imagery,  and  all  the  force  and  beauty  of  which 
the  English  language  is  capable,  leads  us  through  the 
most  important  scenes  of  human  life,  and  shews  us  that 
this  stage  of  our  being  is  full  of  "  vanity  and  vexation 
of  spirit."  To  those  who  look  no  further  than  the  pres- 
ent life,  or  who  maintain  that  human  nature  has  not 
fallen  from  the  state  in  which  it  was  created,  the  in- 
struction of  this  sublime  story  will  be  of  no  avail.  But 
they  who  think  justly,  and  feel  with  strong  sensibility, 
will  listen  with  eagerness  and  admiration  to  its  truth 
and  wisdom.  Voltaire's  Candide,  written  to  refute 
the  system  of  Optimism,  which  it  has  accomplished  with 
brilliant  success,  is  wonderfully  similar  in  its  plan  and 
conduct  to  Johnson's  Hasselas  ;  insomuch,  that  I 
have  heard  Johnson  say,  that  if  they  had  not  been  pub- 
lished so  closely  one  after  the  other  that  there  was  not 
time  for  imitation,  it  would  have  been  in  vain  to  deny 
that  the  scheme  of  that  which  came  latest  was   taken 

9  [Rasselas  was  published  in  March  or  April  1759.] 

,  [See  vol.  iii.  under  June  2,  1781.  Finding  it  then  accidentally  in  a  chaise  with 
Mr.  Boswell,  he  read  it  eagerly, — This  was  doubtless  long  after  his  declaration  to 
Sir  Joshua  Reynolds.     M.] 

2/0  1HE    LIJbE    OI 

1759.  from  the  other.  Though  the  proposition  illustrated  by 
^jj^  both  these  works  was  the  same,  namely,  that  in  our 
50.  present  state  there  is  more  evil  than  good,  the  inten- 
tion of  the  writers  was  verv  different.  Voltaire,  I  am 
afraid,  meant  only  by  wanton  profaneness  to  obtain  a 
sportive  victory  over  religion,  and  to  discredit  the  belief 
of  a  superintending  Providence  :  Johnson  meant,  by 
shewing  the  unsatisfactory  nature  of  things  temporal, 
to  direct  the  hopes  of  man  to  things  eternal.  Rasselas, 
as  was  observed  to  me  by  a  very  accomplished  lady, 
may  be  considered  as  a  more  enlarged  and  more  deep- 
ly philosophical  discourse  in  prose,  upon  the  interesting 
truth,  which  in  his  "  Vanity  of  Human  Wishes"  he 
had  so  successfully  enforced  in  verse. 

The  fund  of  thinking  which  this  work  contains  is 
such,  that  almost  every  sentence  of  it  may  furnish  a 
subject  of  long  meditation.  I  am  not  satisfied  if  a 
year  passes  without  my  having  read  it  through  ;  and 
at  every  perusal,  my  admiration  of  the  mind  which 
produced  it  is  so  highly  raised,  that  I  can  scarcely  be- 
lieve that  I  had  the  honour  of  enjoying  the  intimacy  of 
such  a  man. 

I  restrain  myself  from  quoting  passages  from  this  ex- 
cellent work,  or  even  referring  to  them,  because  I 
should  not  know  what  to  select,  or,  rather  what  to 
omit.  1  shall,  however,  transcribe  one,  as  it  shews  how 
well  he  could  state  the  arguments  of  those  who  be- 
lieve  in  the  appearance  of  departed  spirits  ;  a  doctrine 
which  it  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  he  himself  ever 
positively  held  : 

"  If  all  your  fear  be  of  apparitions,  (said  the  Prince,) 
I  will  promise  you  safety :  there  is  no  danger  from  the 
dead  ;  he  that  is  once  buried  will  be  seen  no  more. 

"  That  the  dead  are  seen  no  more,  (said  Imlac,)  I 
will  not  undertake  to  maintain,  against  the  concurrent 
and  unvaried  testimony  of  all  ages,  and  of  all  nations. 
There  is  no  people,  rude  or  learned,  among  whom  ap- 
paritions of  the  dead  are  not  related  and  believed.  This 
opinion,  which  prevails  as  far  as  human  nature  is  dif- 
fused, could  become  universal  only  by  its  truth  ;  those 
that  never  heard  of  one  another,  would  not  have  agreed 

DR.   JOHNSON".  i/L 

in  a  tale  which  nothing  but  experience  can  make  cred-  1759. 
ible.     That  it  is  doubted  by  single  cavillers,  can   very  2t^ 
little  weaken  the  general  evidence  ;  and  some  who  de-   50. 
ny  it  with  their  tongues,  confess  it  by  their  tears." 

Notwithstanding  my  high  admiration  of  Rasselas,  I 
will  not  maintain  that  the  "  morbid  melancholy"  in 
Johnson's  constitution  may  not,  perhaps,  have  made 
life  appear  to  him  more  insipid  and  unhappy  than  it 
generally  is  ;  for  I  am  sure  that  he  had  less  enjoyment 
from  it  than  I  have.  Yet,  whatever  additional  shade 
his  own  particular  sensations  may  have  thrown  on 
his  representation  of  life,  attentive  observation  and  close 
enquiry  have  convinced  me,  that  there  is  too  much  re- 
ality in  the  gloomy  picture.  The  truth,  however,  is, 
that  we  judge  of  the  happiness  and  misery  of  life  dif- 
ferently at  different  times,  according  to  the  state  of  our 
changeable  frame.  1  always  remember  a  remark  made 
to  me  bv  a  Turkish  lady,  educated  in  France  :  "  Ma 
fbi,  Monsieur,  not  re  bonheur  depend  de  la  facon  que  no- 
tre  sang  circule."  This  have  I  learnt  from  a  pretty 
hard  course  of  experience,  and  would,  from  sincere  be- 
nevolence, impress  upon  all  who  honour  this  book 
with  a  perusal,  that  until  a  steady  conviction  is  obtain- 
ed, that  the  present  life  is  an  imperfect  state,  and  only 
a  passage  to  a  better,  if  we  comply  with  the  divine 
scheme  of  progressive  improvement ;  and  also  that  it  is 
a  part  of  the  mysterious  plan  of  Providence,  that  intel- 
lectual beings  must  "  be  made  perfect  through  suffer- 
ing ;"  there  will  be  a  continual  recurrence  of  disap- 
pointment and  uneasiness.  But  if  we  walk  with  hope 
in  "  the  mid-day  sun"  of  revelation,  our  temper  and 
disposition  will  be  such,  that  the  comforts  and  enjoy- 
ments in  our  way  will  be  relished,  while  we  patiently 
support  the  inconveniencies  and  pains.  After  much 
speculation  and  various  reasonings,  I  acknowledge 
myseif  convinced  of  the  truth  of  Voltaire's  conclusion. 
"  Apres  tout  c'  est  un  monde  passable.33  Hut  we  must" 
not  think  too  deeply  .; 

-where  ignorance  is  bliss.. 

;;  -Tis  follv  to  be  wise/' 

273  THE    LIFE    Ol 

1759.  is,  in  many  respects,  more  than   poetically  just.     Lei 
^^  us  cultivate,  under   the  command   of  good  principles, 
50.    '  /«  theorie  des  sensations  agreables  ;'  and,  as  Mr.  Burke 
once  admirably  counselled  a  grave  and  anxious  gentle- 
man, "  live  pleasant." 

The  effect  of  Rasselas,  and  of  Johnson's  other  moral 
tales,  is  thus  beautifully  illustrated  by  Mr.  Courtenay  : 

"  Impressive  truth,  in  splendid  fiction  drest, 

"  Checks  the  vain  wish,  and  calms  the  troubled  breast  ; 

"  O'er  the  dark  mind  a  light  celestial  throws, 

"  And  sooths  the  angry  passions  to  repose ; 

"  As  oil  effus'd  illumes  and  smooths  the  deep, 

"  When  round  the  bark  the  swelling  surges  sweep."" 

It  will  be  recollected,  that  during  all  this  year  he 
carried  on  his  Idler,3  and,  no  doubt,  was  proceeding, 
though  slowly,  in  his  edition  of  Shakspeare.  He,  how- 
ever, from  that  liberality  which  never  failed,  when  call- 
ed upon   to  assist  other  labourers  in  literature,  found 

2  Literary  and  Moral  Character  of  Johnson. 

3  This  paper  was  in  such  high  estimation  before  ic  was  collected  into  volumes, 
that  it  was  seized  on  with  avidity  by  various  publishers  of  news-papers  and  Mag- 
azines, to  enrich  their  publications.  Johnson,  to  put  a  stop  to  this  unfair  proceed- 
ing, wrote  for  the  Universal  Chronicle  the  following  advertisement  ;  in  which 
there  is,  perhaps,  more  pomp  of  words  than  the  occasion  demanded  : 

"  London,  Jan.  5,  1759.  Advertisement.  The  proprietors  of  the  paper  inti- 
tled  '  The  Idler,'  having  found  that  those  essays  are  inserted  in  the  news-paper? 
and  magazines  with  so  little  regard  to  justice  or  decency,  that  the  Universal  Chron- 
icle, in  which  thev  first  appear,  is  not  always  mentioned,  think  it  necessary  to  de- 
clare to  the  publishers  of  those  collections,  that  however  patiently  they  have  hith- 
erto endured  these  injuries,  made  yet  more  injurious  by  contempt,  they  have  now 
determined  to  endure  them  no  longer.  They  have  already  seen  essays,  for  which 
a  very  large  price  is  paid,  transferred,  with  the  most  shameless  rapacity,  into  the 
weekly  or  monthly  compilations,  and  their  right,  at  least  for  the  present,  alienated 
from  them,  before  they  could  themselves  be  said  to  enjoy  it.  But  they  would  not 
willingly  be  thought  to  want  tenderness,  even  for  men  by  whom,  no  tenderness  hath 
been  shewn.  The  past  is  without  remedy,  and  shall  be  without  resentment.  But 
those  who  have  been  thus  busy  with  their  sickles  in  the  fields  of  their  neighbours, 
are  henceforward  to  take  notice,  that  the  time  of  impunity  is  at  an  end.  Whoev- 
er shall,  without  our  leave,  lay  the  hand  of  rapine  upon  our  papers,  is  to  expect 
that  we  shall  vindicate  our  due,  by  the  means  which  justice  prescribes,  and  which 
3re  warranted  by  the  immemorial  prescriptions  of  honourable  trade.  We  shall 
lay  hold,  in  our  turn,  on  their  copies,  degrade  them  from  the  pomp  of  wide  mar- 
gin and  diffuse  typography,  contract  them  into  a  narrow  space,  and  sell  them  at 
an  humble  price  ;  yet  not  with  a  view  of  growing  rich  by  confiscations,  for  we 
think  not  much  better  of  money  got  by  punishment  than  by  crimes.  We  shall 
therefore,  when  our  losses  are  repaid,  give  what  profit  shall  remain  to  the  Magda- 
lens  ;  for  we  know  not  who  can  be  more  properly  taxed  for  the  support  of  penitent 
prostitutes,  than  prostitutes  in  whom  there  yet  appears  neither  penitence  nor 

DR.    JOHNSON.  273 

time  to  translate  for  Mrs.  Lenox's  English  version  of  1 759. 
Brumoy,  "  A  Dissertation  on  the  Greek  Comedy,""]"  jpJldt 
and  "  The  General  Conclusion  of  the  Book."f  50. 

An  enquiry  into  the  state  of  foreign  countries  was  an 
object  that  seems  at  all  times  to  have  interested  John- 
son. Hence  Mr.  Newbery  found  no  great  difficulty  in 
persuading  him  to  write  the  Introduction*  to  a  collec- 
tion of  voyages  and  travels  published  by  him  under  the 
title  of  "  The  World  Displayed  :"  the  first  volume  of 
which  appeared  this  year,  and  the  remaining  volumes 
in  subsequent  years. 

1  would  ascribe  to  this  year  the  following  letter  to  a 
son  of  one  of  his  early  friends  at  Lichfield,  Mr.  Joseph 
Simpson,  Barrister,  and  authour  of  a  tract  entitled 
44  Reflections  on  the  Study  of  the  Law." 


"  DEAR  SIR, 

"  Your  father's  inexorability  not  only  grieves  but 
amazes  me  :  he  is  your  father  ;  he  was  always  account- 
ed a  wise  man  ;  nor  do  I  remember  any  thing  to  the 
disadvantage  of  his  good  nature ;  but  in  his  refusal  to 
assist  you  there  is  neither  good  nature,  fatherhood,  nor 
wisdom.  It  is  the  practice  of  good  nature  to  overlook 
faults  which  have  already,  by  the  consequences,  pun- 
ished the  delinquent.  It  is  natural  for  a  father  to  think 
more  favourably  than  others  of  his  children  ;  and  it  is 
always  wise  to  give  assistance,  while  a  little  help  will 
prevent  the  necessity  of  greater. 

"  If  you  married  imprudently,  you  miscarried  at  your 
own  hazard,  at  an  age  when  you  had  a  right  of  choice. 
\t  would  be  hard  if  the  man  iui<>ht  not  choose  his  own 
wife  who  has  a  right  to  nlead  before  the  Judges  of  his 

"  if  your  imprudence  has  ended  in  difficulties  and 
inconveniencies,  you  are  yourself  to  support  them; 
and,  with  the  help  of  a  little  better  health,  you  would 
support  them  and  conquer  them.  Surely,  that  want 
which  accident  and  sickness  produces,  is  to  be  support- 
ed in  every  region  of  humanity,  though  there  were 
neither  friends  nor  fathers  in  the  world.     You  have 

vol.  I.  35 

27^  THE    LIFE    OF 

3  759.  certainly  from  your  father  the  highest  claim  of  charity, 
'trf!?  thouqrh  none  of  ri«ht :  and  therefore  I  would  counsel 
50.  you  to  omit  no  decent  nor  manly  degree  01  importuni- 
ty. Your  debts  in  the  whole  are  not  large,  and  of  the 
whole  but  a  small  part  is  troublesome.  Small  debts 
are  like  small  shot ;  they  are  rattling  on  every  side,  and 
can  scarcely  be  escaped  without  a  wound  :  great  debts 
are  like  cannon  ;  of  loud  noise,  but  little  danger.  You 
must,  therefore,  be  enabled  to  discharge  petty  debts, 
that  you  may  have  leisure,  with  security,  to  struggle 
with  the  rest.  Neither  the  great  nor  little  debts  dis- 
grace you.  I  am  sure  you  have  my  esteem  for  the 
courage  with  which  you  contracted  them,  and  the 
spirit  with  which  you  endure  them.  I  wish  my  esteem 
could  be  of  more  use.  1  have  been  invited,  or  have- 
invited  myself,  to  several  parts  of  the  kingdom  ;  and 
Aviil  not  incommode  my  dear  Lucy  by  coming  to  Lich- 
field, while  her  present  lodging  is  of  any  use  to  her.  I 
hope,  in  a  few  days,  to  be  at  leisure,  and  to  make  visits. 
Whither  I  shall  fly  is  matter  of  no  importance.  A  man 
unconnected  is  at  home  every  where;  unless  he  may 
lie  said  to  be  at  home  no  where.  1  am  sorry,  dear  Sir, 
that  where  you  have  parents,  a  man  of  your  merits 
should  not  have  a  home.  I  wish  I  could  give  it  you. 
[  am,  my  dear  Sir, 

"  Affectionately  yours, 

*'  Sam.  Johnson." 

He  now  refreshed  himself  by  an  excursion  to  Ox- 
ford, of  which  the  following  short  characteristical  no- 
tice, in  his   own    words,   is  preserved  : — " is 

now  making  tea  for  me.  I  have  been  in  my  gown  ever 
since  I  came  here.  It  was,  at  my  first  coming,  quite 
new  and  handsome.  I  have  swum  thrice,  which  1  had 
disused  for  many  years.  I  have  proposed  to  Vansit- 
tart*  climbing  over  the  wall,  but  he  has  refused  me. 
And  I  have  ciapped  my  hands  till  they  are  sore,  at  Dr. 
King's  speech." s 

4  Dr,  Robert  Vansittart,  of  the  ancient  and  respectable  family  of  that  name  ii« 
Berkshire.     He  was  eminent  for  learning  and  worth,  and  much  esteemed  by  Dr 
ison.  ^ 

^Gentleman's  Magazine,  April  1785, 

DR.    JOHNSON.  273 

His  negro  servant,  Francis  Barber,  having  left  him,  ]759. 
and  been  some  time  at  sea,  not  pressed  as  has  been  ^tat 
supposed,  but  with   his  own  consent,  it  appears  from  a   50. 
letter  to  John  Wilkes,  Esq.  from  Dr.  Smollet,  that  his 
master  kindly  interested  himself  in  procuring  his  release 
from  a  state  of  life  of  which  .Johnson  always  expressed 
the  utmost  abhorrence.     He  said,  "  No  man  will  be  a 
sailor  who  has  contrivance  enough  to  get  himself  into 
a  jail ;  for  being  in  a  ship  is  being  in  a  jail,  with  the 
chance  of  being  drowned."6      And  at  another  time. 
"  A  man  in   a  jail   has  more  room,  better  food,  and 
commonly  better  company."7     The  letter  was  as  fol- 
lows : 

*  dear  sir,  "  Chelsea,  March  16,  1759. 

"  I  am  again  your  petitioner,  in  behalf  of  that  great 
Cham8  of  literature,  Samuel  Johnson.  His  black  ser- 
vant, whose  name  is  Francis  Barber,  has  been  pressed 
on  board  the  Stag  Frigate,  Captain  Angel,  and  our  lex- 
icographer is  in  great  distress.  He  says,  the  boy  is  a 
sickly  lad,  of  a  delicate  frame,  and  particularly  subject 
to  a  malady  in  his  throat,  which  renders  him  very  unfit 
for  his  Majesty's  service.  You  know  what  matter  of 
animosity  the  said  Johnson  has  against  you  :  and  I  dare 
say  you  desire  no  other  opportunity  of  resenting  it, 
than  that  of  laying  him  under  an  obligation.  He  was 
humble  enough  to  desire  my  assistance  on  this  occa- 
sion, though  he  and  I  were  never  cater-cousins  ;  and  I 

6  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d  edit.  p.  126. 

'  Ibid,  p.  251. 

In  my  first  edition  this  word  was  printed  Chum,  as  it  appears  in  one  of  Mr. 
Wilkes's  Miscellanies,  and  I  animadverted  on  Dr.  Smollett's  ignorance  ;  for  which 
let  me  propitiate  the  manes  of  that  ingenious  and  benevolent  gentleman.  Chi  m 
was  certainly  a  mistaken  reading  for  Cham,  the  title  of  the  Sovereign  of  Tartary, 
which  is  well  applied  to  Johnson,  the  Monarch  of  Literature  :  and  was  an  epithet 
familiar  to  Smollett.  See  "  Roderick  Random,"  chap.  56.  For  this  correction  1 
am  indebted  to  Lord  Palmerston,  whose  talents  and  literary  acquirements  accord 
well  with  his  respectable  pedigree  of  Temple. 

[After  the  publication  of  the  second  edition  of  this  work,  the  authour  was  fur- 
nished by  Mr.  Abercrombie  of  Philadelphia,  with  the  copy  of  a  letter  written  by 
Dr.  John  Armstrong,  the  poet,  to  Dr.  Smollett  at  Leghorn,  containing  the  following 
paragraph  : 

"  As  to  the  K.  Bench  patriot,  it  is  hard  to  say  from, what  motive  he  published  a 
letter  of  yours  asking  some  trifling  favour  of  him  in  behalf  of  somebody  for  whom 
the  great  Cham  of  literature,  Mr.  Johnson,  had  interested  himself."     M.J 

276  THE    LIFE    OF 

1759-  gave  him  to  understand  that  I  would  make  application 
)e^  to  my  friend  Mr.  Wilkes,  who,  perhaps,  by  his  interest 
50.  with  Dr.  Hay  and  Mr.  Elliot,  might  be  able  to  procure 
the  discharge  of  his  lacquey.  It  would  be  superfluous 
to  say  more  on  the  subject,  which  J  leave  to  your  own 
consideration  ;  but  I  cannot  let  slip  this  opportunity  of 
declaring  that  I  am,  with  the  most  inviolable  esteem 
and  attachment,  dear  Sir, 

"  Your  affectionate  obliged  humble  servant, 

"  T.  Smollett." 

Mr.  Wilkes,  who  upon  all  occasions  has  acted,  as  a 
private  gentleman,  with  most  polite  liberality,  applied 
to  his  friend  Sir  George  Hay,  then  one  of  the  Lords 
Commissioners  of  the  Admiralty  ;  and  Francis  Barber 
was  discharged,  as  he  has  told  me,  without  any  wish  of 
his  own.  He  found  his  old  master  in  Chambers  in  the 
Inner  Temple,  and  returned  to  his  service. 

What  particular  new  scheme  of  life  Johnson  had  in 
view  this  year,  I  have  not  discovered  ;  but  that  he  med- 
itated one  of  some  sort,  is  clear  from  his  private  devo- 
tions, in  which  we  find,9  "  the  change  of  outward 
things  which  1  am  now  to  make  ;"  and,  "  Grant  me 
the  grace  of  thy  Holy  Spirit,  that  the  course  which  I 
am  now  beginning  may  proceed  according  to  thy  laws, 
and  end  in  the  enjoyment  of  thy  favour."  But  he  did 
not,  in  fact,  make  any  external  or  visible  change. 

At  this  time  there  being  a  competition  among  the 
architects  of  London  to  be  employed  in  the  building  of 
Blackfriars-bridge,  a  question  was  very  warmly  agitated 
whether  semicircular  or  elliptical  arches  were  prefera- 
ble. In  the  design  offered  by  Mr.  Mylne  the  elliptical 
form  was  adopted,  and  therefore  it  was  the  great  object 
of  his  rivals  to  attack  it.  Johnson's  regard  for  his  friend 
Mr.  Gwyn  induced  him  to  engage  in  this  controversy 
against  Mr.  Mylne  ; '   and  after  being  at  considerable 

9  Prayers  and  Meditations,  pp.  30  and  40. 

1  Sir  John  Hawkins  has  given  a  long  detail  of  it,  in  that  manner  vulgarly,  but 
significantly,  called  rigmarole  ;  in  which,  amidst  an  ostentatious  exhibition  of  arts 
and  artists,  he  talks  of  "  proportions  of  a  column  being  taken  from  that  of  the  hu- 
man figure,  and  adjusted  by  iva/af-i-- -masculine  and  feminine — in  a  man,  sesquioctave 
of  the  head,  and  in  a  woman  tesquinonal ',■  nor  has  he  failed  to  introduce  a  jargon 

DR.    JOHNSON.  277 

pains  to  study  the  subject,  he  wrote  three  several  let-  1759. 
ters.inthe  Gazetteer,  in  opposition  to  his  plan.  Mtzt. 

If  it  should  be  remarked  that  this  was  a  controversy  50. 
which  lay  quite  out  of  Johnson's  way,  let  it  he  remem- 
bered, that  after  all,  his  employing  his  powers  of  rea- 
soning and  eloquence  upon  a  subject  which  he  had 
studied  on  the  moment,  is  not  more  strange  than  what 
we  often  observe  in  lawyers,  who,  as  Quicguid  agunt 
homines  is  the  matter  of  law-suits,  are  sometimes  oblig- 
ed to  pick  up  a  temporary  knowledge  of  an  art  or  sci- 
ence, of  which  they  understood  nothing  till  their  brief 
was  delivered,  and  appear  to  be  much  masters  of  it. 
In  like  manner,  members  of  the  legislature  frequently 

of  musical  terms,  which  do  not  seem  much  to  correspond  with  the  subject,  but 
serve  to  make  up  the  heterogeneous  mass.  To  follow  the  Knight  through  all  this, 
would  be  an  useless  fatigue  to  myself,  and  not  a  little  disgusting  to  my  readers. 
I  shall,  therefore,  only  make  a  few  remarks  upon  his  statement. — He  seems  to  ex- 
ult in  having  detected  Johnson  in  procuring  "  from  a  person  eminently  skilled  in 
mathematicks  and  the  principles  of  architecture,  answers  to  a  string  of  questions 
drawn  up  by  himself,  touching  the  comparative  strength  of  Semicircular  and 
elliptical  arches."  Now  I  cannot  conceive  how  Johnson  could  have  acted  more 
wisely.  Sir  John  complains  that  the  opinion  of  that  excellent  mathematician,  Mr. 
Thomas  Simpson,  did  not  preponderate  in  favour  of  the  semicircular  arch.  But 
he  should  have  known,  that  however  eminent  Mr.  Simpson  was  in  the  higher 
parts  of  abstract  mathematical  science,  he  was  little  versed  in  mixed  and  practical 
mechanicks.  Mr.  Muller,  of  Woolwich  Academy,  the  scholastick  father  of  all  the 
great  engineers  which  this  country  has  employed  for  forty  years,  decided  the  ques?- 
tion  by  declaring  clearly  in  favour  of  the  elliptical  arch. 

It  is  ungraciouslv  suggested,  that  Johnson's  motive  for  opposing  Mr.  Mylne's 
scheme  may  have  been  his  prejudice  against  him  as  a  native  of  North-Britain  ; 
when,  in  truth,  as  has  been  stated,  he  gave  the  aid  of  his  able  pen  to  a  friend,  who 
was  one  of  the  candidates  ;  and  so  far  was  he  from  having  any  illiberal  antipathy 
to  Air.  Mylne,  that  he  afterwards  lived  with  that  gentleman  upon  very  agreeable 
terms  of  acquaintance,  and  dined  with  him  at  his  house. 

Sir  John  Hawkins,  indeed,  gives  full  vent  to  his  own  prejudice  in  abusing  Black- 
iriars-bridge,  calling  it  "  an  edifice,  in  which  beauty  and  symmetry  are  in  vain 
sought  for  ;  by  which  the  citizens  of  London  have  perpetuated  their  own  dis- 
grace, and  subjected  a  whole  nation  to  the  reproach  of  foreigners."  Whoever  has 
contemplated, placldo  lum'me,  this  stately,  elegant,  and  airy  structure,  which  has  so 
fine  an  effect,  especially  on  approaching  the  capital  on  that  quarter,  must  wonder 
at  such  unjust  and  ill-tempered  censure  ;  and  I  appeal  to  all  foreigners  of  good 
taste,  whether  this  bridge  be  not  one  of  the  most  distinguished  ornaments  of  Lon- 
don. As  to  the  stability  of  the  fabrick,  it  is  certain  that  the  City  of  London  took 
every  precaution  to  have  the  best  Portland  Stone  for  it  ;  but  as  this  is  to  be  found 
in  the  quarries  belonging  to  the  publick,  under  the  direction  of  the  Lords  of  the 
1  rcasury,  it  so  happened  that  parliamentary  interest,  which  is  often  the  bane  of 
fair  pursuits,  thwarted  their  endeavours.  Notwithstanding  this  disadvantage,  it  is 
well  known  that  not  only  has  Blackfriars-bridge  never  sunk  either  in  its  foundation 
or  ir.  its  arches,  which  were  so  much  the  subject  of  contest,  but  any  injuries  which 
it  has  suffered  from  the  effects  of  severe  frosts  have  been  already,  in  some  measure, 
repaired  with  sounder  stone,  and  every  necessary  renewal  can  be  completed  at  a 
moderate  expence. 

2/8  THE    LIFE    OF 

176o.  introduce  and  expatiate  upon  subjects  of  which  they 
$5^  have  informed  themselves  for  the  occasion. 
si.  In  1760  he  wrote  "  an  Address  of  the  Painters  to 
George  III.  on  his  accession  to  the  Throne  of  these 
Kingdoms,"f  which  no  monarch  ever  ascended  with 
more  sincere  congratulations  from  his  people.  Two 
generations  of  foreign  princes  had  prepared  their  minds 
to  rejoice  in  having  again  a  King,  who  gloried  in  being 
"  born  a  Briton."  He  also  wrote  for  Mr.  Baretti  the 
Dedication")*  of  his  Italian  and  English  Dictionary,  to 
the  Marquis  of  Abreu,  then  Envoy-Extraordinary  from 
Spain  at  the  Court  of  Great-Britain. 

Johnson  was  now  either  very  idle,  or  very  busy  with 
his  Shakspeare  ;  for  I  can  find  no  other  publick  compo- 
sition by  him  except  an  Introduction  to  the  proceedings 
of  the  Committee  for  cloathing  the  French  Prisoners  ;* 
one  of  the  many  proofs  that  he  was  ever  awake  to  the 
calls  of  humanity ;  and  an  account  which  he  gave  in 
the  Gentleman's  Magazine  of  Mr.  Tytler's  acute  and 
able  vindication  of  Mary  Queen  of  Scots.*  The  gener- 
osity of  Johnson's  feelings  shines  forth  in  the  following 
sentence  :  "  It  has  now  been  fashionable,  for  near  halt 
a  century,  to  defame  and  vilify  the  house  of  Stuart,  and 
to  exalt  and  magnify  the  reign  of  Elizabeth.  The  Stu- 
arts have  found  few  apologists,  for  the  dead  cannot  pay 
for  praise  ;  and  who  will,  without  reward,  oppose  the 
tide  of  popularity  !  Yet  there  remains  still  among  us, 
wot  wholly  extinguished,  a  zeal  for  truth,  a  desire  of  es- 
tablishing right  in  opposition  to  fashion." 

In  this  year  I  have  not  discovered  a  single  private 
letter  written  by  him  to  any  of  his  friends.  It  should 
seem,  however,  that  he  had  at  this  period  a  floating  in- 
tention of  writing  a  history  of  the  recent  and  wonder- 
ful successes  of  the  British  arms  in  all  quarters  of  the 
^lobe ;  for  among  his  resolutions  or  memorandums, 
September  18,  there  is,  "Send  for  books  for  Hist,  of 
War."1  How  much  is  it  to  be  regretted  that  this  in- 
tention  was  not  fulfilled.  His  majestick  expression 
\vould  have  carried  down  to  the  latest  posterity   the 

;  Prayers  ?nd  Meditations,  p.  42* 

DR.    JOHNSON.  279 

glorious  achievements  of  his  country,  with  the  same  1760. 
fervent  glow  which  they  produced  on  the  mind  at  the  JJ^ 
time.     He  would  have   been   under  no  temptation  to   51. 
deviate  in  any  degree  from  truth,  which  he  held  very 
sacred,  or  to  take  a  licence,  which  a  learned  divine  told 
me  he  once  seemed,  in  a  conversation,  jocularly  to  al- 
low  to  historians.      "  There  are  (said  he)  inexcusable 
lies,  and  consecrated  lies.     For  instance,  we  are  told 
that  on  the  arrival  of  the  news  of  the  unfortunate  bat- 
tle of  Fontenoy,  every  heart  beat,  and  every  eye  was 
in  tears.     Now  we  know  that  no  man  eat  his  dinner 
the  worse,  but  there  should  have  been  all  this  concern  ; 
and  to  say  there  zvas,  (smiling)  may  be  reckoned  a  con- 
secrated lie." 

This  year  Mr.  Murphy,  having  thought  himself  ill- 
treated  by  the  Rev.  Dr.  Franklin,  who  was  one  of  the 
writers  of  "  The  Critical  Review,"  published  an  indig- 
nant vindication  in  "  A  Poetical  Epistle  to  Samuel  John- 
son, A.  M."  in  which  he  compliments  Johnson  in  a 
just  and  elegant  manner  : 

"  Transcendant  Genius  !  whose  prolifick  vein 

"  Ne'er  knew  the  frigid  poet's  toil  and  pain  ; 

"  To  whom  Apollo  opens  all  his  store, 

"  And  every  Muse  presents  her  sacred  lore  ; 

"  Say,  powerful  Johnson,  whence  thy  verse  is  fraught 

"  With  so  much  grace,  such  energy  of  thought  ; 

"  Whether  thy  Juvenal  instructs  the  age 

"  In  chaster  numbers,  and  new-points  his  rage  ; 

"  Or  fair  Irene  sees,  alas  !  too  late 

"  Her  innocence  exchanged  for  guilty  state  : 

"  Whate'er  you  write,  in  every  golden  line 
Sublimity  and  elegance  combine  ; 
Thy  nervous  phrase  impresses  every  soul, 
While  harmony  gives  rapture  to  the  whole." 

Again,  towards  the  conclusion  ; 

'  Thou  then,  my  friend,  who  see'st  the  dang'rous  strife 
'  In  which  some  demon  bids  me  plunge  my  life, 
:  To  the  Aonian  fount  direct  my  feet, 
;  Say,  where  the  Nine  thy  lonely  musings  meet  ? 



280  THE    LIFE    OF 

1760.  ;-  Where  warbles  to  thy  ear  the  sacred  throng, 
jEtaT  "  Tky  moral  sense,  thy  dignity  of  song  ? 
51.    "  Tell,  for  you  can,  by  what  unerring  art 
"  You  wake  to  finer  feelings   every  heart  ; 
'  In  each  bright  page  some  truth  important  give 
"  And  bid  to  future  times  thy  Rambler  live." 

I  take  this  opportunity  to  relate  the  manner  in  which 
an  acquaintance  first  commenced  between  Dr.  John- 
son and  Mr.  Murphy.  During  the  publication  of 
"  The  Gray's-Inn  Journal,"  a  periodical  paper  which 
was  successfully  carried  on  by  Mr.  Murphy  alone, 
when  a  very  young  man,  he  happened  to  be  in  the 
country  with  Mr.  Foote  ;  and  having  mentioned  that 
he  was  obliged  to  go  to  London  in  order  to  get  ready 
for  the  press  one  of  the  numbers  of  that  Journal,  Foote 
said  to  him,  "  You  need  not  goon  that  account.  Here 
is  a  French  magazine,  in  which  you  will  find  a  very 
pretty  oriental  tale  ;  translate  that,  and  send  it  to  your 
printer."  Mr.  Murphy  having  read  the  tale,  was  high- 
ly pleased  with  it,  and  followed  Footed  advice.  When 
he  returned  to  Town,  this  tale  was  pointed  out  to  him 
in  "  The  Rambler,"  from  whence  it  had  been  translated 
into  the  French  magazine.  Mr.  Murphy  then  waited 
upon  Johnson,  to  explain  this  curious  incident.  His 
talents,  literature,  and  gentleman-like  manners,  were 
soon  perceived  by  Johnson,  and  a  friendship  was  formed 
which  was  never  broken.1 

3  [When  Mr.  Murphy  first  became  acquainted  with  Dr.  Johnson,  he  was  about 
thirty-one  years  old.  He  died  at  Knightsbridge,  June  18,  1805,  it  is  believed  in 
his  eighty-second  year. 

In  an  account  of  this  gentleman  published  recently  after  his  death,  he  is  report- 
ed to  have  said,  that  "  he  was  but  twenty-one,  when  he  had  the  impudence  to  write 
a  periodical  paper,  during  the  time  that  Johnson  was  publishing  "  the  Rambler." — 
In  a  subsequent  page,  in  which  Mr.  Boswell  gives  an  account  of  his  first  introduc- 
tion to  Johnson,  will  be  found  a  striking  instance  of  the  incorrectness  of  Mr.  Mur- 
phy's memory  ;  and  the  assertion  above-mentioned,  if  indeed  he  made  it,  which  is 
by  no  means  improbable,  furnishes  an  additional  proof  of  his  inaccuracy  :  for  both 
the  facts  asserted  are  unfounded.  He  appears  to  have  been  eight  vears  older 
dian  twenty-one,  when  he  began  the  Gray's-Inn  Journal ;  and  that  paper,  instead 
of  running  a  race  with  Johnson's  production,  did  not  appear  till  after  the  closing 
of  the  Rambler,  which  ended  March  14,  1752.  The  first  number  of  the  Gray's- 
Inn  Journal  made  its  appearance  about  seven  months  afterwards,  in  a  newspaper 
of  the  time,  called  the  Craftsman,  October  21,  1752;  and  in  that  form  the  first 
forty-nine  numbers  were  given  to  the  publick.  On  Saturday,  Sept.  29, 1753,  it  as- 
sumed a  new  form,  and  was  published  as  a  distinct  periodical  paper  ;  and  in  that 

DR.    JOHNSON,  281 





"    DEAR  SIR 

"  You  that  travel  about  the  world,  have  more 
materials  for  letters,  than  i  who  stay  at  home  :  and 
should,  therefore,  write  with  frequency  equal  to  your 
opportunities  1  should  be  glad  to  have  all  England 
surveyed  by  you,  if  you  would  impart  your  observations 
in  narratives  as  agreeable  as  your  last.  Knowledge  is 
always  to  be  wished  to  those  who  can  communicate  it 
well.  While  you  have  been  riding  and  running,  and 
seeing  the  tombs  of  the  learned,  and  the  camps  of  tiie 
valiant,  1  have  only  staid  at  home,  and  intended  to  do 
great  things,  which  I  have  not  done.  Beau4  went  away 
to  Cheshire,  and  has  not  yet  found  his  way  back. 
Chambers  passed  the  vacation  at  Oxford. 

"  1  am  very  sincerely  solicitous  for  the  preservation 
or  curing  of  Air.  Langton's  sight,  and  am  glad  that  the 
chirurgeon  at  Coventry  gives  him  so  much  hope.  Mr. 
Sharpe  is  of  opinion  that  the  tedious  maturation  of  the 
cataract  is  a  vulvar  errour,  and  that  it  may  be  removed 
as  soon  as  it  is  formed.  This  notion  deserves  to  be  con- 
sidered ;  1   doubt  whether  it  be  universally  true  ;  but 

shape  it  continued  to  be  published  till  the  21st  of  Sept.  1754,  when  it  finally  clos-> 
ed  ;  forming  in  the  whole  one  hundred  and  one  Essays,  in  the  folio  copy.  The 
extraordinary  paper  mentioned  in  the  text,  is  No.  38  of  the  second  series,  publish' 
ed  on  June  15,  1751  ;  which  is  a  retranslation  from  the  French  version  of  John- 
son's Rambler,  No.  190.  It  was  omitted  in  the  republication  of  these  Essays  in 
two  volumes  12mo.  in  which  one  hundred  and  four  are  found,  and  in  which  the 
papers  are  not  always  dated  on  the  days  when  they  really  appeared  ;  so  that  the 
motto  prefixed  to  this  Anglo-Gallick  Eastern  tale,  obscuris  -vera  iniwlnjins,  might 
very  properlv  have  been  prefixed  to  this  work,  when  republished.  Mr.  Murphv 
did  not,  I  believe,  wait  on  Johnson  recently  after  the  publication  of  this  adumbra* 
tion  of  one  of  his  Ramblers,  as  seems  to  be  stated  in  the  text ;  for,  in  his  conclud- 
ing Essay,  Sept.  21,  1754,  we  find  the  following  paragraph: 

"  Besides,  why  may  not  a  person  rather  choose  an  air  of  bold  negligence,  than 
the  obscure  diligence  of  pedants  and  writers  of  afTected  phraseology.  For  my  part, 
I  have  always  thought  an  easy  style  more  eligible  than  a  pompous  diction,  lifted 
up  by  metaphor,  amplified  by  epithet,  and  dignified  by  too  frequent  insertions  o£ 
the  Latin  idiom."  It  is  probable  that  the  Rambler  was  here  intended  to  be  censur- 
ed, and  that  the  author,  when  he  wrote  it  was  not  acquainted  with  Johnson,  whom 
from  his  first  introduction,  he  endeavoured  to  conciliate.  Their  acquaint  a: 
therefore,  it  may  be  presumed,  did  not  commence  till  towards  the  end  of  thisyeai 
1754.  Murphv  however  had  highly  praised  John=on  in  the  precedi;!^  year.  No 
14  of  the  second  series,  Dec.  22,  1  758.     M.  \ 

4  Topham  Beauclerk,  Esq. 

VOL.  I.  ,  36 

282  THE    LIFE    OF 

1760.  if  it  be  true  in  some  cases,  and  those  cases  can  be  dis- 
^v^  tinguished,  it  may  save  a  long  and  uncomfortable  delay. 
51. '  "  Of  dear  Mrs.  Langton  you  give  me  no  account  ; 
which  is  the  less  friendly,  as  you  know  how  highly  I 
think  of  her,  and  how  much  I  interest  myself  in  her 
health.  I  suppose  you  told  her  of  my  opinion,  and 
likewise  suppose  it  was  not  followed  :  however,  I  still 
believe  it  to  be  right. 

"  Let  me  hear  from  you  again,  wherever  you  are. 
or  whatever  you  are  doing  ;  whether  you  wander  or 
sit  still,  plant  trees  or  make  Rusticks,s  play  with  your 
sisters  or  muse  alone  ;  and  in  return  I  will  tell  you  the 
success  of  Sheridan,  who  at  this  instant  is  playing  Cato, 
and  has  already  played  Richard  twice.  He  had  more 
company  the  second  than  the  first  night,  and  will  make 
I  believe  a  good  figure  in  the  whole,  though  his  faults 
seem  to  be  very  many  ;  some  of  natural  deficience,  and 
some  of  laborious  affectation.  He  has,  I  think,  no 
power  of  assuming  either  that  dignity  or  elegance  which 
some  men,  who  have  little  of  either  in  common  life, 
can  exhibit  on  the  stage.  His  voice  when  strained  is 
unpleasing,  and  when  low  is  not  always  heard.  He 
seems  to  think  too  much  on  the  audience,  and  turns 
his  face  too  often  to  the  galleries. 

'•  However,  1  wish  him  well  ;  and  among  other  rea- 
sons, because  I  like  his  wife.6 

■•  Make  haste  to  write  to,  dear  Sir, 
"  Your  most  affectionate  servant, 

:i  Oct.  IS,  176O.  "  Sam.  Johnso.x 


In  1761  Johnson  appears  to  have  done  little.  He 
was  still,  no  doubt,  proceeding  in  his  edition  of  Shak- 
speare  ;  but  what  advances  he  made  in  it  cannot  be 
ascertained.  He  certainly  was  at  this  time  not  active  ; 
for  in  his  scrupulous  examination  of  himself  on  Easter 
eve,  he  laments,  in  his  too  rigorous  mode  of  censuring 
his  own  conduct,  that  his  life,  since  the  communion  of 

5  Essays  with  that  title,  written  about  this  time  by  Mr.  Langton,  but  not  pub- 

6  Mrs.  Sheridan  was  authour  of  "  Memoirs  of  Miss  Sydney  Biddulph,"  a  now 
of  great  merit,  and  of  some  other  peices. — See  her  character,  p.  305- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  283 

the  preceding  Easter,  had  been  "  dissipated  and  use-  1761. 
less."7  ]  [e,  however,  contributed  this  year  the  Preface*  jjJJJ 
to  "  Rolt's  Dictionary  of  Trade  and  Commerce,"  in  52. 
which  he  displays  such  a  clear  and  comprehensive  knowl- 
edge of  the  subject,  as  might  lead  the  reader  to  think 
that  its  authour  had  devoted  all  his  life  to  it.  I  asked 
him,  whether  he  knew  much  of  Roll,  and  of  his  work. 
••  Sir,  (said  he)  I  never  saw  the  man,  and  never  read 
the  hook.  The  booksellers  wanted  a  Preface  to  a  Dic- 
tionary of  Trade  and  Commerce.  I  knew  very  w< 
what  such  a  Dictionary  should  be,  and  I  wrote  a  Prefao 
accordingly."  Holt,  who  wrote  a  great  deal  for  the 
booksellers,  was,  as  Johnson  told  me,  a  singular  char- 
acter. Though  not  in  the  least  acquainted  with  him, 
he  used  to  say,  "  1  am  just  come  from  Sam.  Johnson." 
This  was  a  sufficient  specimen  of  his  vanity  and  impu- 
dence. But  he  gave  a  more  eminent  proof  of  it  in  our 
sister  kingdom,  as  Dr.  Johnson  informed  me.  \\  hen 
Akenside's  "  Pleasures  of  the  Imagination"  first  came 
out,  he  did  not  put  his  name  to  the  poem.  Rolt  went 
over  to  Dublin,  published  an  edition  of  it,  and  put  his 
own  name  to  it.  I  pon  the  fame  of  this  he  lived  for 
several  months,  being  entertained  at  the  best  tables  as 
"  the  ingenious  Mr.  Rolt."3  His  conversation  indeed, 
did  .not  discover  much  of  the  fire  of  a  poet  ;  but  it  was 
recollected,  that  both  Addison  and  Thompson  were 
equally  dull  till  excited  by  wine.  Akenside  having 
been  informed  of  this  imposition,  vindicated  his  right 
by  publishing  the  poem  with  its  real  authour's  name. 
Several  instances  of  such  literarv  fraud  have  been  de- 
tected.  The  Reverend  Dr.  Campbell,  of  St.  Andrews, 
wrote  "  An  Enquiry  into  the  original  of  Moral  Vir- 
tue," the  manuscript  of  which  he  sent  to  Mr.  Innes, 
a  clergyman  in  England,  who  was  his  countryman  and 
acquaintance.     Innes  published  it  with  his  own  name 

7  Prayers  and  Meditations,  p.  44. 

£  I  have  had  enquiry  made  in  Ireland  as  to  this  story,  but  do  not  find  it  recollect- 
ed there.  1  give  it  on  the  authority  of  Dr.  Johnson,  to  which,  may  be  added  that 
of  the  "  Biographical  Dictionary,"  and  "  Biographia  Dramatica  ;"  in  both  of  which 
it  has  stood  many  years.  Mr.  Malone  observes,  that  the  truth  probably  is.  net 
:hat  an  edition  was  published  with  Rolt's  name  in  the  title-page,  but,  that  the  poem 
'being  then  anonvmous,  Rolt  acquiesced  in  its  being  attributed  to  him  in  conversa- 

58*  THE    LIFE    OP 

i*6i.  to  it  ;  and  before  the  imposition  was  discovered,  ob« 
JE^  tained  considerable  promotion,  as  a  reward  of  bis 
52.  merit.9  The  celebrated  Dr.  Hugh  Blair,  and  his 
cousin  Mr.  George  Bannatine,  when  students  in  divi- 
nity, wrote  a  poem,  entitled  "  The  Resurrection," 
copies  of  which  were  handed  about  in  manuscript. 
They  were,  at  length,  very  much  surprized  to  see  a 
pompous  edition  of  it  in  folio,  dedicated  to  the  Prin- 
cess Dowager  of  Wales,  by  a  Dr.  Douglas,  as  his  own. 
Some  years  ago  a  little  novel,  entitled  "  The  Man  of 
Feeling,"  was  assumed  by  Mr.  Eccles,  a  young  Irish 
clergyman,  who  was  afterwards  drowned  near  Bath. 
He  had  been  at  the  pains  to  transcribe  the  whole  book, 
with  blottings,  interlineations,  and  corrections,  that  it 
might  be  shewn  to  several  people  as  an  original.  It 
was,  in  truth,  the  production  of  Mr.  Henry  Macken- 
zie, an  attorney  in  the  Exchequer  at  Edinburgh,  who 
is  the  authour  of  several  other  ingenious  pieces  ;  but 
the  belief  with  regard  to  Mr.  Eccles  became  so  gen- 
eral, that  it  was  thought  necessary  for  Messieurs  Stra- 
han  and  Cadell  to  publish  an  advertisement  in  the 
newspapers,  contradicting  the  report,  and  mentioning 
that  they  purchased  the  copy-right  of  Mr.  Mackenzie. 
I  can  conceive  this  kind  of  fraud  to  be  very  easily 
practised  with  successful  effrontery.  The  Filiation  of 
a  literary  performance  is  difficult  of  proof  ;  seldom  is 
there  any  witness  present  at  its  birth.  A  man,  either 
in  confidence  or  by  improper  means,  obtains  possession 
of  a  copy  of  it  in  manuscript,  and  boldly  publishes  it 
as  his  own.  The  true  authour,  in  many  cases,  may 
not  be  able  to  make  his  title  clear.  Johnson,  indeed, 
from  the  peculiar  features  of  his  literary  offspring,  might 
bid  defiance  to  any  attempt  to  appropriate  them  to 
others  : 

"  But  Shakspeare's  magick  could  not  copied  be, 
"  AVithin  that  circle  none  durst  walk  but  he." 

He  this  year  lent  his  friendly  assistance-  to  correct 
and   improve  a  pamphlet  written  by  Mr.  Gwyn,   the 

9  !  have  hoth  the  books.     Innes  was  the  clergyman  who  brought  Psalmana^aii 
-  England,  and  was  an  accomplice  in  his  extraordinary  fiction. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  285 

architect,   entitled  "  Thoughts  on   the   Coronation   of  1761. 
George  III."*  j££J; 

Johnson  had  now  for  some  years  admitted  Mr.  Ha-    50. 
retti  to   his  intimacy  ;  nor  did  their  friendship  cease 
upon   their  being  separated  by  Uaretti's  revisiting  his 
native  country,  as  appears  from  Johnson's  letters  to 



"  You  reproach  me  very  often  with  parsimony  of 
writing  ;  but  you  may  discover  by  the  extent  of  my 
paper,  that  1  design  to  recompence  rarity  by  length. 
A  short  letter  to  a  distant  friend  is,  in  my  opinion,  an 
insult  like  that  of  a  slight  bow  or  cursory  salutation  ; — 
a  proof  of  unwillingness  to  do  much,  even  where  there 
is  a  necessity  of  doing  something.  Vet  it  must  be  re- 
membered, that  he  who  continues  the  same  course  of 
life  in  the  same  place,  will  have  little  to  tell.  One 
week  and  one  year  are  very  like  one  another.  The 
silent  changes  made  by  him  are  not  always  perceived  ; 
and  if  they  are  not  perceived,  cannot  be  recounted.  I 
have  risen  and  lain  down,  talked  and  mused,  while 
you  have  roved  over  a  considerable  part  of  Europe  ; 
yet  I  have  not  envied  my  Baretti  any  of  his  pleasures, 
though,  perhaps,  I  have  envied  others  his  company  : 
and  1  am  glad  to  have  other  nations  made  acquainted 
with  the  character  of  the  English,  by  a  traveller  who 
has  so  nicely  inspected  our  manners,  and  so  success- 
fully studied  our  literature.  1  received  your  kind  let- 
ter from  Falmouth,  in  which  you  gave  me  notice  of 
your  departure  for  Lisbon  ;  and  another  from  Lisbon, 
in  which  you  told  me,  that  you  were  to  leave  Portugal 
in  a  few  days.  To  either  of  these  how  could  any  an- 
swer be  returned  !  1  have  had  a  third  from  Turin,  com- 
plaining that  1  have  not  answered  the  former.  Your 
English  style  still  continues  in  its  purity  and  vigour 
With  vigour  your  genius  will  supply  it  ;  but  its  purity 

1  The  originals  of  Dr.  Johnson's  three  letters  to  Mr.  Baretti,  which  are  amonp; 
the  very  best  he  ever  wrote,  were  communicated  to  the  proprietors  of  that  instruc- 
tive and  elegant  monthly  miscellany,  "  The  European  Magazine,"  in  winch  they 
first  appeared 

286  THE    LIFE    OF 

1761.  must  be  continued  by  close  attention.  To  use  two 
jjfo^  languages  familiarly,  and  without  contaminating  one 
52.  by  the  other,  is  very  difficult  :  and  to  use  more  than 
two,  is  hardly  to  be  hoped.  The  praises  which  some 
have  received  for  their  multiplicity  of  languages,  may 
be  sufficient  to  excite  industry,  but  can  hardly  generate 

"  1  know  not  whether  I  can  heartily  rejoice  at  the 
kind  reception  which  you  have  found,  or  at  the  popu- 
larity to  which  vou  are  exalted.  I  am  willing  that 
your  merit  should  be  distinguished  ;  but  cannot  wish 
that  your  affections  may  be  gained.  1  would  have  you 
happy  wherever  you  are :  yet  I  would  have  you  wish 
to  return  to  England.  If  ever  you  visit  us  again,  you 
will  find  the  kindness  of  your  friends  undiminished. 
To  tell  you  how  many  enquiries  are  made  after  you, 
would  be  tedious,  or  if  not  tedious,  would  be  vain  ;  be- 
cause you  may  be  told  in  a  very  few  words,  that  all 
who  knew  you  wish  you  well ;  and  that  all  that  you 
embraced  at  your  departure,  will  caress  you  at  your  re- 
turn :  therefore  do  not  let  Italian  academicians  nor  Ital- 
ian ladies  drive  us  from  your  thoughts.  You  may  find 
among  us  what  you  will  leave  behind,  soft  smiles  and 
easv  sonnets.  Yet  I  shall  not  wonder  if  all  our  invita- 
tions  should  be  rejected  :  for  there  is  a  pleasure  in  be- 
ing considerable  at  home,  which  is  not  easily  resisted. 

"  By  conducting  Mr.  Southwell  to  Venice,  you  ful- 
filled, I  know,  the  original  contract :  yet  1  would  wish 
you  not  wholly  to  lose  him  from  your  notice,  but  to 
recommend  him  to  such  acquaintance  as  may  best  se- 
cure him  from  suffering  by  his  own  follies,  and  to  take 
such  general  care  both  of  his  safety  and  his  interest  as 
may  come  within  your  power.  His  relations  will  thank 
you  for  any  such  gratuitous  attention  :  at  least  they 
will  not  blame  you  for  any  evil  that  may  happen, 
whether  they  thank  you  or  not  for  any  good. 

"  You  know  that  we  have  a  new  King  and  a  new 
Parliament.  Of  the  new  Parliament  Fitzherbert  is  a 
member.  We  were  so  weary  of  our  old  King,  that  we 
are  much  pleased  with  his  successor ;  of  whom  we  are 
so  much  inclined  to  hope  great  things,  that  most  of  us 

DR.    JOHNSON.  287 

begin  already   to  believe   them.     The   young  man  is  l"6i. 
hitherto  blameless  ;  but  it   would   be    unreasonable   to  j?tat 
expeet  much  from   the   immaturity  of  juvenile   years,    52. 
and  the  ignorance  of  princely  education.      He  has  been 
long  in  the  hands  of  the  Scots,  and  has  already  favour- 
ed  them  more  than  the    English    will   contentedly   en- 
dure.    But,  perhaps,  he  scarcely  knows   whom  he  has 
distinguished,  or  whom  he  has  disgusted. 

"  The  Artists  have  instituted  a  yearly  Exhibition  of 
pictures  and  statues,  in  imitation,  as  1  am  told,  of  for- 
eign academies.  This  year  was  the  second  Exhibition. 
They  please  themselves  much  with  the  multitude  of 
spectators,  and  imagine  that  the  English  School  will 
rise  in  reputation.  Reynolds  is  without  a  rival,  and 
continues  to  add  thousands  to  thousands,  which  he  de- 
serves, among  other  excellencies,  by  retaining  his  kind- 
ness for  Baretti.  This  Exhibition  has  filled  the  heads 
of  the  Artists  and  lovers  of  art.  Surely  life,  if  it  be  not 
long,  is  tedious,  since  we  are  forced  to  call  in  the  assist- 
ance of  so  many  trifles  to  rid  us  of  our  time,  of  that  time 
which  never  can  return. 

'-  I  know  my  Baretti  will  not  be  satisfied  with  a  let- 
ter in  which  1  give  him  no  account  of  myself:  yet 
what  account  shall  I  give  him  ;  I  have  not,  since  the 
day  of  our  separation,  suffered  or  done  any  thing  con- 
siderable. The  only  change  in  my  way  of  life  is,  that 
I  have  frequented  the  theatre  more  than  in  former  sea- 
sons. But  I  have  gone  thither  only  to  escape  from  my- 
self. We  have  had  many  new  farces,  and  the  comedy 
called  '  The  Jealous  Wife/  which,  though  not  written 
with  much  genius,  was  yet  so  well  adapted  to  the  stage, 
and  so  well  exhibited  by  the  actors,  that  it  was  crowd- 
ed for  near  twenty  nights.  1  am  digressing  from  my- 
self to  the  play-house  ;  but  a  barren  plan  must  be  fill- 
ed with  episodes.  Of  myself  1  have  nothing  to  say, 
but  that  I  have  hitherto  lived  without  the  concurrence 
of  my  own  judgement;  yet  1  continue  to  flatter  my- 
self, that,  when  you  return,  you  will  find  me  mended. 
I  do  not  wonder  that,  where  the  monastick  life  is  per- 
mitted, every  order  finds  votaries,  and  every  monastery 
inhabitants.     Men  will  submit  to  any  rule,  by  which 

28S  THE    LIFE    OF 

5761.  they  may  be  exempted  from  the  tyranny  of  caprice  and 
jjjj'  of  chance.  They  are  glad  to  supply  by  external  au- 
02.  "  thority  their  own  want  of  constancy  and  resolution,  and 
court  the  government  of  others,  when  long  experience 
has  convinced  them  of  their  own  inability  to  govern 
themselves.  If  i  were  to  visit  Italy,  my  curiosity  would 
be  more  attracted  by  convents  than  by  palaces  ;  though 
I  am  afraid  that  1  should  find  expectation  in  both 
places  equally  disappointed,  and  life  in  both  places 
supported  with  impatience  and  quitted  with  reluctance. 
That  it  must  be  so  soon  quitted,  is  a  powerful  remedv 
against  impatience  ;  but  what  shall  free  us  from  reluc- 
tance? Those  who  have  endeavoured  to  teach  us  to 
die  well,  have  taught  few  to  die  willingly  :  yet  I  cannot 
but  hope  that  a  good  life  might  end  at  last  in  a  con- 
tented death. 

"  You  see  to  what  a  train  of  thought  I  am  drawn 
by  the  mention  of  myself.  Let  me  now  turn  my  at- 
tention upon  you.  I  hope  you  take  care  to  keep  an 
exact  journal,  and  to  register  all  occurrences  and  obser- 
vations ;  for  your  friends  here  expect  such  a  book  of 
travels  as  has  not  been  often  seen.  You  have  given 
us  good  specimens  in  your  letters  from  Lisbon.  1  wish 
you  had  staid  longer  in  Spain,  for  no  country  is  less 
known  to  the  rest  of  Europe  ;  but  the  quickness  of 
your  discernment  must  make  amends  for  the  celerity 
of  your  motions.  He  that  knows  which  way  to  direct 
his  view,  sees  much  in  a  little  time. 

"  Write  to  me  very  often,  and  I  will  not  neglect  to 
write  to  you  ;  and  1  may,  perhaps,  in  time,  get  some- 
thing to  write:  at  least,  you  will  know  by  my  letters, 
whatever  else  they  may  have  or  want,  that  1  continue 
to  be 

"  Your  most  affectionate  friend, 
"[Loudon}  June  10,  176 1.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

In  1762  he  wrote  for  the  Reverend  Dr.  Kennedy, 
Rector  of  Bradley  in  Derbyshire,  in  a  strain  of  very 
courtly  elegance,  a  Dedication  to  the  King*  of  that 
gentleman's  work,  entitled  "  A  complete  System  of 
Astronomical   Chronology,   unfolding  the  Scriptures.1' 

DR.    JOHNSON.  t>39 

He  had  certainly  looked  at  this  work  before  it  was  1762. 
printed  !  tor  the  concluding  paragraph  is  undoubtedly  JtaT. 
of  his  composition,  of  which  let  my  readers  judge  :  53. 

"  Thus  have  I  endeavoured  to  free  Religion  and 
History  from  the  darkness  of  a  disputed  and  uncertain 
chronology  ;  from  difficulties  which  have  hitherto  ap- 
peared insuperable,  and  darkness  which  no  luminary 
of  learning  has  hitherto  been  able  to  dissipate.  I  have 
established  the  truth  of  the  Mosaical  account,  by  evi- 
dence which  no  transcription  can  corrupt,  no  negligence 
can  lose,  and  no  interest  can  pervert,  I  have  shewn 
that  the  universe  bears  witness  to  the  inspiration  of  its 
historian,  by  the  revolution  of  its  orbs  and  the  succes- 
sion of  its  seasons  ;  that  the  stars  in  their  courses  fight: 
against  incredulity,  that  the  works  of  God  give  hourly 
confirmation  to  the  law,  the  prophets,  and  the  gospel, 
of  which  one  day  te'leth  another,  and  one  night  certijieth 
another ;  and  that  the  validity  of  the  sacred  writings 
never  can  be  denied,  while  the  moon  shall  increase  and 
wane,  and  the  sun  shall  know  his  going  down." 

He  this  year  wrote  also  the  Dedication  j"  to  the  Earl 
of  Middlesex  of  Mrs.  Lenox's  "  Female  Quixote," 
and  the  Preface  to  the  "  Catalogue  of  the  Artist's  Ex- 

The  following  letter,  which,  on  account  of  its  intrin- 
sick  merit,  it  would  have  been  unjust  both  to  Johnson 
and  the  publick  to  have  withheld,  was  obtained  for  mr 
by  the  solicitation  of  my  friend  Mr.  Seward  : 




"  DEAR  SIR. 

"i  make  haste  to  answer  vour  kind  letter,  in 
hone  of  hearing  again  from  vou  before  vou  leave  us.  I 
cannot  but  regret  that  a  man  of  your  qualifications 
should  find  it  necessary  to  seek  an  establishment  in 
Guadal  which  if  a  pear-    should  restore  to  the 

French,  1  s  lall  think  it  som<  alleviation  of  the  loss, 
that  it  must  restore  likewise  Dr.Staunton  to  the  English. 

"  It  is  a  m  ilancholy  consideration,  that  so  much  of 
our  time  is  necessarily  to  be  spent  upon  the  care  of  Uv- 

vol.  1.  37 

990  THE    LIFE    OF 

1762.  Ing,  and  that  we  can  seldom  obtain  ease  in  one  respect 
^T^  but  by  resigning  it  in  another  ;  yet  1  suppose  we  are  by 
53.  this  dispensation  not  less  happy  in  the  whole,  than  if 
the  spontaneous  bounty  of  Nature  poured  all  that  we 
want  into  our  hands.  A  few,  if  thev  were  left  thus  to 
themselves,  would,  perhaps,  spend  their  time  in  lauda- 
ble pursuits  ;  but  the  greater  part  would  prey  upon  the 
quiet  of  each  other,  or,  in  the  want  of  other  objects, 
would  pn-y  upon  themselves. 

"  This,  however,  is  our  condition,  which  we  must  im- 
prove and  solace  as  we  can  :  and  though  we  cannot 
choose  always  our  place  of  residence,  we  may  in  every 
place  find  rational  amusements,  and  possess  in  every 
place  the  comforts  of  piety  and  a  pure  conscience. 

"  in  America  there  is  little  to  be  observed  except 
natural  curiosities.  The  new  world  must  have  many 
vegetables  and  animals  with  which  philosophers  are  but 
little  acquainted.  1  hope  you  will  furnish  yourself 
with  some  books  of  natural  history,  nnt\  some  glasses 
and  other  instruments  of  observation.  Trust  as  little  as 
you  can  to  report;  examine  all  you  can  by  your  own 
senses.  1  do  not  doubt  but  you  will  be  able  to  add 
much  to  knowledge,  and,  perhaps,  to  medicine.  Wild 
nations  trust  to  simples  ;  and,  perhaps,  the  Peruvian 
bark  is  not  the  only  specifick  which  those  extensive 
regions  may  afford  us. 

"  Wherever  you  are,  and  whatever  be  your  fortune, 
be  certain,  dear  Sir,  that  you  carrv  with  you  my  kind 
wishes;  and  that  whether  you  return  hither,  or  stay  in 
the  other  hemisphere,  to  hear  that  you  are  happy  will 
give  pleasure  to,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  affectionate  humble  servant, 
"■June  1,  17te2.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 

A  lady  having  at  this  time  solicited  him  to  obtain 
the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury's  patronage  to  have  her 

ii  sent  to  the  University,  one  of  those  solicitations 
which  are  too  frequent,  where  people,  anxious  for  a 
particular  object,  do  not  consider  propriety,  or  the  op- 
portunity which  the  persons  whom  they  solicit  have  to 
assist  them,  he  wrote  to  her  the  following  answer  ;  with 

DR.    JOHNSON.  291 

a  copy  of  which  T  am  favoured   by   the   Reverend  Dr.  1762. 
I  armer,  Master  of  lananuel  College,  Cambridge.  flE'tat' 

"    MADAM, 

"  I  hope  you  will  believe  that  my  delay  in  an- 
swering your  letter  could  proceed  only  from  my  un- 
willingness to  destroy  any  hope  that  you  had  formed. 
J  [opt*  is  itself  a  species  of  happiness,  and,  perhaps,  the 
chief  happiness  which  this  world  affords  :  but,  like  all 
other  pleasures  immoderately  enjoyed,  the  excesses  of 
hope  must  be  expiated  by  pain  ;  and  expectations  im- 
properly indulged,  must  end  in  disappointment,  if  it 
be  asked,  what  is  the  improper  expectation  which  it  is 
dangerous  to  indulge,  experience  will  quickly  answer. 
that  it  is  such  expectation  as  is  dictated  not  by  reason, 
but  by  desire  ;  expectation  raised,  not  by  the  common 
occurrences  of  life,  but  by  the  wants  of  the  expectant ; 
an  expectation  that  requires  the  common  course  of 
things  to  be  changed,  and  the  general  rules  of  action 
to  be  broken. 

"  When  vou  made  your  request  to  me,  you  should 
have  considered,  Madam,  what  vou  were  asking.  You 
ask  me  to  solicit  a  great  man,  to  whom  1  never  spoke, 
for  a  young  person  whom  1  had  never  seen,  upon  a 
supposition  which  1  had  no  means  of  knowing  to  be 
true.  There  is  no  reason  why,  amongst  all  the  srreat, 
1  should  chuse  to  supplicate  the  Archbishop,  nor  why, 
among  all  the  possible  objects  of  his  bounty,  the  Arch- 
bishop should  chuse  your  son.  I  know,  Madam,  how 
unwillingly  conviction  is  admitted,  when  interest  op- 
poses it  ;  but  surely,  Madam,  you  must  allow,  that 
there  is  no  reason  whv  that  should  be  done  by  me, 
which  (-very  other  man  may  do  with  equal  reason,  and 
which,  indeed,  no  man  can  do  properly,  without  some 
very  particular  relation  both  to  the  Archbishop  and  to 
you.  If  1  could  help  you  in  this  exigence  by  any 
proper  means,  it  would  give  me  pleasure  ;  but  this  pro- 
posal is  so  very  remote  from  usual  methods,  that  I 
cannot  comply  with  it,  but  at  the  risk  of  such  answer 
and  suspicions  as  I  believe  you  do  not  wish  me  to  un- 

^92  THE    LIFE    OF 

1762.      «  I  have  seen  your  son  this  morning  ;  he  seems  a 

jj-^  pretty  youth,  and  will,  perhaps,  find  some  better  friend 

53.    than  I  can  procure  him  ;  but  though  he  should  at  last 

miss  the   University,   he  may  still  be  wise,  useful,  and 

happy.     I  am,  Madam, 

"  Your  most  humble  servant, 
"  June  8,  1762.  "  Sam.  Johnson." 


"  sir,  London,  July  20,  1762. 

"  However  justly  you  may  accuse  me  for  want 
of  punctuality  in  correspondence,  I  am  not  so  far  lost 
in  negligence  as  to  omit  the  opportunity  of  writing  to 
you,  which  Mr.  Beauclerk's  passage  through  Milan 
affords  me. 

"  I  suppose  you  received  the  Idlers,  and  I  intend 
that  you  shall  soon  receive  Shakspeare,  that  you  may 
explain  his  works  to  the  ladies  of  Italy,  and  tell  thein 
the  story  of  the  editor,  among  the  other  strange  narra- 
tives with  which  your  long  residence  in  this  unknown 
region  has  supplied  you. 

"  As  you  have  now  been  long  away,  I  suppose 
your  curiosity  may  pant  for  some  news  of  your  old 
friends.  Miss  Williams  and  1  live  much  as  we  did. 
Miss  Cotterel  still  continues  to  cling  to  Mrs.  Porter, 
and  Charlotte  is  now  big  of  the  fourth  child.  Mr. 
Reynolds  gets  six  thousands  a  year.  Levet  is  lately 
married,  not  without  much  suspicion  that  he  has  been 
wretchedly  cheated  in  his  match.  Mr.  Chambers  is 
gone  this  day,  for  the  first  time,  the  circuit  with  the 
Judges.  Mr.  Richardson1  is  dead  of  an  apoplexy,  and 
his  second  daughter  has  married  a  merchant. 

"  My  vanity,  or  my  kindness,  makes  me  flatter  my- 
self, that  you  would  rather  hear  of  me  than  of  those 
whom  1  have  mentioned  ;  but  of  myself  I  have  very 
little  which  I  care  to  tell.  Last  winter  I  went  down 
to  my  native  town,  where  I  found  the  streets  much 
narrower  and  shorter  than  I  thought  I  had  left  them,  in- 
habited by  a  new  race  of  people,  to  whom  I  was  very 

2  [Samuel  Puchardson,  the  author  of  Clarissa,  Sir  Charles  Grandison,  &c     He 
died  July  4,  1761,  aged  72,     M.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  293 

little  known.     My  play-fellows  were  grown  old,  and  1762. 
forced  me  to  suspect  that  1  was  no  longer  young.     My  ^^ 
only  remaining  friend  has  changed  his  principles,  and    53. 
was  become  the  tool  of  the  predominant  faction.     My 
daughter-in-law,    from   whom   1   expected   most,   and 
whom  I   met   with  sincere  benevolence,   has  lost  the 
beauty  and  gaiety  of  youth,  without  having  gained 
much  of  the  wisdom  of  age.     I  wandered  about   for 
five  days,   and  took   the  first  convenient  opportunity 
of  returning  to  a  place,  where,  if  there  is  not  much  hap- 
piness, there  is,  at   least,  such  a  diversity  of  good  and 
evil,  that  slight  vexations  do  not  fix  upon  the  heart. 

"  I  think  in  a  few  weeks  to  try  another  excursion  ; 
though  to  what  end  ?  Let  me  know,  my  Baretti,  what 
has  been  the  result  of  your  return  to  your  own  coun- 
try :  whether  time  has  made  any  alteration  for  the 
better,  and  whether,  when  the  first  raptures  of  saluta- 
tion were  over,  you  did  not  find  your  thoughts  confess- 
ed their  disappointment. 

"  Moral  sentences  appear  ostentatious  and  tumid, 
when  they  have  no  greater  occasions  than  the  journey 
of  a  wit  to  his  own  town  :  yet  such  pleasures  and  such 
pains  make  up  the  general  mass  of  life  ;  and  as  noth- 
ing is  little  to  him  that  feels  it  with  great  sensibility,  a 
mind  able  to  see  common  incidents  in  their  real  state, 
is  disposed  by  very  common  incidents  to  very  serious 
contemplations.  Let  us  trust  that  a  time  will  come, 
when  the  present  moment  shall  be  no  longer  irksome  ; 
when  we  shall  not  borrow  all  our  happiness  from  hope, 
which  at  last  is  to  end  in  disappointment. 

"  1  beg  that  you  will  shew  Mr.  Beauclerk  all  the 
civilities  which  you  have  in  your  power  ;  for  he  has 
iilwavs  been  kind  to  me. 

"  1  have  lately  seen  Mr.  Stratico,  Professor  of  Padua, 
who  has  told  me  of  your  quarrel  with  an  Abbot  of  the 
Celestine  order  ;  but  had  not  the  particulars  very  read\r 
in  his  memory.  When  you  write  to  Mr.  Marsili,  let 
him  know  that  I  remember  him  with  kindness. 

"  May  you,  my  Baretti,  be  very  happy  at  Milan,  or 
some  other  place  nearer  to,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  affectionate  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

294  THE    LIFE    OF 

1762.  The  accession  of  George  the  Third  to  the  throne  of 
these  kingdoms,  opened  a  new  and  brighter  prospect  to 
men  of  literary  merit,  who  had  been  honoured  with  no 
mark  of  royal  favour  in  the  preceding  reign.  His  pres- 
ent Majesty's  education  in  this  country,  as  well  as  his 
taste  and  beneficence,  prompted  him  to  be  the  patron 
of  science  and  the  arts;  and  earlv  this  year  Johnson 
having  been  represented  to  him  as  a  very  learned  and 
good  man,  without  any  certain  provision,  his  Majesty 
was  pleased  to  grant  him  a  pension  of  three  hundred 
pounds  a  year.  The  Earl  of  Bute,  who  was  then  Prime 
Minister,  had  the  honour  to  announce  this  instance  of 
his  Sovereign's  bounty,  concerning  which,  many  and 
various  stories,  all  equally  erroneous,  have  been  propa- 
gated ;  maliciously  representing  it  as  a  political  bribe 
to  Johnson,  to  desert  his  avowed  principles,  and  become 
the  tool  of  a  government  which  he  held  to  be  founded 
in  usurpation.  I  have  taken  care  to  have  it  in  my  pow- 
er to  refute  them  from  the  most  authentick  information. 
Lord  Bute  told  me,  that  Mr.  Wedderburne,  now  Lord 
Loughborough,  was  the  person  who  first  mentioned 
this  subject  to  him.  Lord  Loughborough  told  me, 
that  the  pension  was  granted  to  Johnson  solely  as  the 
reward  of  his  literary  merit,  without  any  stipulation 
whatever,  or  even  tacit  understanding  that  he  should 
write  for  administration.  His  Lordship  added,  that  he 
was  confident  the  political  tracts  which  Johnson  after- 
wards did  write,  as  they  were  entirely  consonant  with 
his  own  opinions,  would  have  been  written  by  him, 
though  no  pension  had  been  granted  to  him. 

Mr.  Thomas  Sheridan  and  Mr.  Murphy,  who  then 
lived  a  good  deal  both  with  him  and  Mr.  Wedderburne, 
told  me,  that  they  previously  talked  with  Johnson  upon 
this  matter,  and  that  it  was  perfectly  understood  by  all 
parties  that  the  pension  was  merely  honorary.  Sir 
Joshua  Reynolds  told  me,  that  Johnson  called  on  him 
after  his  Majesty's  intention  had  been  notified  to  him, 
and  said  ho  wished  to  consult  his  friends  as  to  the  pro- 
priety of  his  accepting  this  mark  of  the  royal  favour, 
after  the  definitions  which  he  had  given  in  his  Diction-* 
nvy  of  pension  and  pensioners.     He  said  he  should  not 

DR.    JOHNSON.  29o 

have  Sir  Joshua's  answer  till  next  day,  when  he  would  1762. 
call  again,  and  desired  he  might  think  of  it.  Sir  Josh- a^  . 
ua  answered  that  he  was  clear  to  give  his  opinion  then,  53, 
that  there  could  be  00  objection  to  his  receiving  from 
the  King  a  reward  for  literary  merit ;  and  that  certainly 
the  definitions  in  his  Dictionary  were  not  applicable  to 
him.  Johnson,  it  should  seem,  was  satisfied,  for  he 
did  not  call  again  till  he  had  accepted  the  pension,  and 
had  waited  on  Lord  Bute  to  thank  him.  He  then 
told  Sir  Joshua  that  Lord  Bute  said  to  him  expressly, 
'■'  It  is  not  given  you  for  any  thing  you  are  to  do,  but 
for  what  you  have  done."3  His  Lordship,  he  said,  be- 
haved in  the  handsomest  manner.  He  repeated  the 
words  twice,  that  he  might  be  sure  Johnson  heard 
them,  and  thus  set  his  mind  perfectly  at  ease.  This 
nobleman,  who  has  been  so  virulently  abused,  acted 
with  great  honour  in  this  instance,  and  displayed  a 
mind  truly  liberal.  A  minister  of  a  more  narrow  and 
selfish  disposition  would  have  availed  himself  of  such 
an  opportunity  to  fix  an  implied  obligation  on  a  man 
of  Johnson's  powerful  talents  to  give  him  his  sup- 

Mr.  Murphy  and  the  late  Mr.  Sheridan  severally  con- 
tended for  the  distinction  of  having  been  the  first  who 
mentioned  to  Mr.  \V  edderburne  that  Johnson  ouarht  to 
have  a  pension.  W  hen  I  spoke  of  this  to  Lord 
Loughborough,  wishing  to  know  if  he  recollected  the 
prime  mover  in  the  business,  he  said,  "  All  his  friends 
assisted  :"  and  when  I  told  him  that  Mr.  Sheridan 
strenuously  asserted  his  claim  to  it,  his  Lordship  said, 
"He  rang  the  bell."  And  it  is  but  just  to  add,  that 
Mr.  Sheridan  told  me,  that  when  he  communicated  to 
Dr.  Johnson  that  a  pension  was  to  be  granted  him,  he 
replied  in  a  fervour  of  gratitude,  "  The  English  language 
does  not  afford  me  terms  adequate  to  my  feelings  on 
this  occasion.  1  must  have  recourse  to  the  French.  1 
am  penetrk  with  his  Majesty's  goodness."  When  1 
repeated  this  to  Dr.  Johnson,  he  did  not  contradict  it. 

'  [This  was  said  by  Lord  Bute,  as  Dr.  Burney  was  informed  by  Johnson  himself, 
in  answer  to  a  question  which  he  put,  previously  to  hi-  acceptance  of  the  intended 
bounty  ;  "  Pray,  my  lord,  what  am  I  expected  to  do  for  this  pens'  M.l 

296  the  LIFE  °b 

1762.  His  definitions  of  pension  and  pensioner,  partly  found- 
^^  ed  on  the  satirical  verses  of  Pope,  which  he  quotes, 
53?  '  may  be  generally  true  :  and  yet  every  body  must  allow, 
that  there  may  be,  and  have  been,  instances  of  pen- 
sions given  and  received  upon  liberal  and  honourable 
terms.  Thus,  then,  it  is  clear,  that  there  was  nothing 
inconsistent  or  humiliating  in  Johnson's  accepting  of  a 
pension  so  unconditionally  and  so  honourably  offered 

to  him. 

But  I  shall  not  detain  my  readers  longer  by  any 
words  of  my  own,  on  a  subject  on  which  I  am  happily 
enabled,  by  the  favour  of  the  Earl  of  Bute,  to  present; 
them  with  what  Johnson  himself  wrote  ;  his  lordship 
having  been  pleased  to  communicate  to  me  a  copy  of 
the  following  letter  to  his  late  father,  which  does  great 
honour  both  to  the  writer,  and  to  the  noble  person  to 
whom  it  is  addressed  : 

45  MY   LORD, 

"  When  the  bills  were  yesterday  delivered  to  me 
by  Mr.  Wedderburne,  I  was  informed  by  him  of  the  fu- 
ture favours  which  his  Majesty  has,  by  your  Lordship's 
recommendation,  been  induced  to  intend  for  me. 

"  Bounty  always  receives  part  of  its  value  from  the 
manner  in  which  it  is  bestowed  ;  your  Lordship's  kind- 
ness includes  every  circumstance  that  can  gratify  deli- 
cacy, or  enforce  obligation.  You  have  conferred  your 
favours  on  a  man  who  has  neither  alliance  nor  interest, 
who  has  not  merited  them  by  services,  nor  courted 
them  by  officiousness  ;  you  have  spared  him  the  shame 
of  solicitation,  and  the  anxiety  of  suspense. 

"  What  has  been  thus  elegantly  given,  will,  I  hope, 
not  be  reproachfully  enjoyed  ;   I   shall  endeavour  to 
give  your  Lordship  the  only  recompense  which  gene- 
rosity desires, — the    gratification  of  finding  that  your 
benefits  are  not  improperly  bestowed.     lam,  my  Lord, 
"  Your  Lordship's  most  obliged, 
"  Most  obedient,  and  most  humble  servant 
"  July  20,  1769.  "  Sam.  Johnson. 


DR.    JOHNSON.  297 

This  year  his  friend,  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  paid  a  vis- 1762. 
it  of  some  weeks  to  his  native  country,  Devonshire,  in  JTt^ 
which  he  was  accompanied  by  Johnson,  who  was  much   53. 
pleased  with   this  jaunt,  and   declared  he  had  derived 
from  it  a  great  accession  of  new  ideas.      He  was  enter- 
tained at  the  seats  of  several  noblemen  and  gentlemen 
in  the  west  of  England  ;*   but  the  greatest  part  of  this 
time  was  passed  at  Plymouth,  where  the  magnificence 
of  the  navy,  the  ship-building  and  all  its  circumstances, 
afforded  him   a  grand  subject  of  contemplation.     The 
Commissioner  of  the  Dock-yard  paid  him  the  compli- 
ment of  orderino-  the   yatcht  to  convey   him  and  his 
friend  to  the    Eddystone,  to   which  they  accordingly 
sailed.     But  the  weather  was  so  tempestuous  that  they 
could  not  land. 

Reynolds  and  he  were  at  this  time  the  guests  of  Dr. 
Mudge,  the  celebrated  surgeon,  and  now  physician  of 
that  place,  not  more  distinguished  for  quickness  of 
parts  and  variety  of  knowledge,  than  loved  and  esteem- 
ed for  his  amiable  manners  ;  and  here  .Johnson  formed 
an  acquaintance  with  Dr.  Mudge's  father,  that  very 
eminent  divine,  the  Reverend  Zachariah  Mudge,  pre- 
bendary of  Exeter,  who  was  idolised  in  the  west,  both 
for  his  excellence  as  a  preacher  and  the  uniform  perfect 
propriety  of  his  private  conduct.  He  preached  a  ser- 
mon purposely  that  Johnson  might  hear  him  ;  and  we 
shall  see  afterwards  that  Johnson  honoured  his  memo- 
ry by  drawing  his  character.  While  Johnson  was  at 
Plymouth,  he  saw  a  great  many  of  its  inhabitants, 
and  was  not  sparing  of  his  very  entertaining  conversa- 
tion. It  was  here  that  he  made  that,  frank  and  truly 
original  confession,  that  "  ignorance,  pure  ignorance/' 
was  the  cause  of  a  wrong  definition  in  his  Dictionary 
of  the  word  pastern*  to  the  no  small  surprise  of  the 

4  At  one  of  these  seats  Dr.  Amyat,  Physician  in  London,  told  me  he  happened 
to  meet  him.  In  order  to  amuse  him  till  dinner  should  be  ready,  he  was  taken  out 
to  walk  in  the  garden.  The  master  of  the  house  thinking  it  proper  to  introduce 
something  scientifick  into  the  conversation,  addressed  him  thus  :  "  Are  you  a  bot- 
anist. Dr.  Jolmson  ?"  "  No,  Sir,  (answered  Johnson,)  I  am  not  a  botanist;  and,  (al- 
itiding,  no  doubt,  to  his  near  sightedness)  should  I  wish  to  become  a  botanist.  I 
Jfinst  firot  turn  myself  into  a  reptile." 

s  See  p.  233. 

vol.  i.  38 

$9S  THE    LIFE    OF 

1762.  Lady  who  put  the  question  to  him  ;  who  having  the 

j^'aT  most  profound  reverence  for  his  character,  so  as  almost 

53.    to  suppose  him  endowed  with  infallibility,  expected  to 

hear  an  explanation  (of  what,  to  be  sure,  seemed  strange 

to  a  common   reader,)  drawn  from  some  deep-learned 

source  with  which  she  was  unacquainted. 

Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  to  whom  I  was  obliged  for  my 
information  concerning  this  excursion,  mentions  a  very 
characteristical  anecdote  of  Johnson  while  at  Ply- 
mouth. Having  observed,  that  in  consequence  of  the 
Dock-yard  a  new  town  had  arisen  about  two  miles  off 
as  a  rival  to  the  old  ;  and  knowing  from  his  sagacity, 
and  just  observation  of  human  nature,  that  it  is  certain 
if  a  man  hates  at  all,  he  will  hate  his  next  neighbour  ; 
he  concluded  that  this  new  and  risino;  town  could  not 
but  excite  the  envy  and  jealousy  of  the  old,  in  which 
conjecture  he  was  very  soon  confirmed  ;  he  therefore 
set  himself  resolutely  on  the  side  of  the  old  town,  the 
established  town,  in  which  his  lot  was  cast,  considering 
it  as  a  kind  of  duty  to  stand  by  it.  He  accordingly  en- 
tered warmly  into  its  interests,  and  upon  every  occa- 
sion talked  of  the  dockers,  as  the  inhabitants  of  the 
new  town  were  called,  as  upstarts  and  aliens.  Ply- 
mouth is  very  plentifully  supplied  with  water  by  a  riv- 
er brought  into  it  from  a  great  distance,  which  is  so 
abundant  that  it  runs  to  waste  in  the  town.  The 
Dock,  or  New-town,  being  totally  destitute  of  water, 
petitioned  Plymouth  that  a  small  portion  of  the  con- 
duit might  be  permitted  to  go  to  them,  and  this  was 
now  under  consideration.  Johnson,  affecting  to  enter- 
tain the  passions  of  the  place,  was  violent  in  opposi- 
tion ;  and  half-laughing  at  himself  for  his  pretended 
zeal,  where  he  had  no  concern,  exclaimed,  "  No,  no  ! 
I  am  against  the  dockers ;  I  am  a  Plymouth-man. 
Rogues  !  let  them  die  of  thirst.  They  shall  not  have 
a  drop  !"6 

Lord  Macartney  obligingly  favoured  me  with  a  cop\ 
of  the  following  letter,  in  his  own  hand-writing,  from 

*  [A  friend  of  mine  once  heard  him,  during  this  visit,  exclaim  with  the  utmost 
vehemence,  "  I  hate  a  Docker."     J.  B.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  299 

the  original,  which  was  found,  by  the  present  Earl  of  1762. 
Bute,  among  his  father's  papers.  jEtat. 


"  MY    LORD, 

"  That  generosity,  by  which  I  was  recommend- 
ed to  the  favour  of  his  Majesty,  will  not  beoffended  at 
a  solicitation  necessary  to  make  that  favour  permanent 
and  effectual. 

"  The  pension  appointed  to  be  paid  me  at  Michael- 
mas I  have  not  received,  and  know  not  where  or  from 
whom  I  am  to  ask  it.  I  beg,  therefore,  that  your  lord- 
ship will  be  pleased  to  supply  Mr.  Wedderburne  with 
such  directions  as  may  be  necessary,  which,  I  believe, 
his  friendship  will  make  him  think  it  no  trouble  to  con- 
vey to  me. 

"  To  interrupt  your  Lordship,  at  a  time  like  this, 
with  such  petty  difficulties,  is  improper  and  unseason- 
able ;  but  your  knowledge  of  the  world  has  long 
since  taught  you,  that  every  man's  affairs,  however  lit- 
tle, are  important  to  himself.  Every  man  hopes  that 
he  shall  escape  neglect  ;  and,  with  reason,  may  every 
man,  whose  vices  do  not  preclude  his  claim  ;  expect 
favour  from  that  beneficence  which  has  been  extend- 
ed to, 

"  My  Lord, 

"  Your  Lordship's 
"  Most  obliged, 
"  And 

"  Most  humble  servant, 
"  Temple  Lane,  Nov.  3,  1762.         "  Sam.  Johnson.'" 


"  sir,  London,  Dec.  21,  1762. 

"You  are  not  to  suppose,  with  all  your  conviction 
of  my  idleness,  that  I  have  passed  all  this  time  without 
writing  to  my  Baretti.  I  gave  a  letter  to  Mr.  Beau- 
clerk,  who  in  my  opinion,  and  in  his  own,  was  hasten- 
ing to  Naples  for  the  recovery  of  his  health  ;  but  he 
has  stopped  at  Paris,  and  I  know  not  when  he  will  pro- 
reed.     Langton  is  with  him. 

300  THE    LIFE    OF 

1762.  «  l  WJil  not  trouble  you  with  speculations  about 
2tau  Peace  an^  war.  The  good  or  ill  success  of  battles  and 
53.  embassies  extends  itself  to  a  very  small  part  of  domes- 
tick  life  :  we  all  have  good  and  evil,  which  we  feel  more 
sensibly  than  our  petty  part  of  publick  miscarriage  or 
prosperity.  I  am  sorry  for  your  disappointment,  with 
which  you  seem  more  touched  than  I  should  expect  a 
man  of  your  resolution  and  experience  to  have  been, 
did  I  not  know  that  general  truths  are  seldom  applied 
to  particular  occasions  ;  and  that  the  fallacy  of  our  self- 
love  extends  itself  as  wide  as  our  interest  or  affections. 
Every  man  believes  that  mistresses  are  unfaithful,  and 
patrons  capricious ;  but  he  excepts  his  own  mistress, 
and  his  own  patron.  We  have  all  learned  that  great- 
ness is  negligent  and  contemptuous,  and  that  in  Courts 
life  is  often  languished  away  in  ungratified  expecta- 
tion ;  but  he  that  approaches  greatness,  or  glitters  in  a 
Court,  imagines  that  destiny  has  at  last  exempted  him 
from  the  common  lot. 

"  Do  not  let  such  evils  overwhelm  you  as  thousands 
have  suffered,  and  thousands  have  surmounted  ;  but 
turn  your  thoughts  with  vigour  to  some  other  plan  of 
life,  and  keep  always  in  your  mind,  that  with  due  sub- 
mission to  Providence,  a  man  of  genius  has  been  sel- 
dom ruined  but  by  himself.  Your  Patron's  weakness 
or  insensibility  will  finally  do  you  little  hurt,  if  he  is 
not  assisted  by  your  own  passions.  Of  your  love  I 
know  not  the  propriety,  nor  can  estimate  the  power ; 
but  in  love,  as  in  every  other  passion  of  which  hope  is 
the  essence,  we  ought  always  to  remember  the  uncer- 
tainty of  events.  There  is,  indeed,  nothing  that  so 
much  seduces  reason  from  vigilance,  as  the  thought  of 
passing  life  with  an  amiable  woman  ;  and  if  all  would 
happen  that  a  lover  fancies,  I  know  not  what  other  ter- 
restrial happiness  would  deserve  pursuit.  But  love 
and  marriage  are  different  states.  Those  who  are  to 
suffer  the  evils  together,7  and  to  suffer  often  for  the 
sake  of  one  another,  soon   lose  that  tenderness  of  look, 

7  [Johnson  probably  wrote  "  the  evils  ef  life  together."  The  words  in  Italicks, 
however,  are  not  found  in  Baretti's  original  edition  of  this  letter,  but  they  may- 
have  been  omitted  inadvertently  either  in  his  transcript  or  at  the  press.    M.  | 

DR.    JOHNSON.  301 

and  that  benevolence  of  mind,  which  arose  from  the  1763. 
participation   of    unmingled    pleasure    and   successive  ]£{^ 
amusement.     A  woman,   we   are  sure,  will  not  be  al-   54. 
ways  fair  ;  we  are  not  sure  she  will  always  be  virtuous  : 
and  man  cannot  retain  through  life  that  respect  and  as- 
siduity by   which  he  pleases  for  a  day  or  for  a  month. 
I  do  not,  however,  pretend  to  have  discovered  that  life 
has  any  thing  more  to  be  desired  than  a  prudent  and 
virtuous  marriage  ;  therefore  know  not  what  counsel 
to  give  you. 

"  If  you  can  quit  your  imagination  of  love  and  great- 
ness, and  leave  your  hopes  of  preferment  and  bridal 
raptures  to  try  once  more  the  fortune  of  literature  and 
industry,  the  way  through  France  is  now  open.  We 
flatter  ourselves  that  we  shall  cultivate,  with  great  dili- 
gence, the  arts  of  peace  ;  and  every  man  will  be  wel- 
come among  us  who  can  teach  us  any  thing  we  do  not 
know.  For  your  part,  you  will  find  all  your  old  friends 
willing  to  receive  you. 

"  Reynolds  still  continues  to  increase  in  reputation 
and  in  riches.  Miss  Williams,  who  very  much  loves 
you,  goes  on  in  the  old  way.  Miss  Cotterel  is  still 
with  Mrs.  Porter.  Miss  Charlotte  is  married  to  Dean 
Lewis,  and  has  three  children.  Mr.  Levet  has  married 
a  street-walker.  But  the  gazette  of  my  narration  must 
now  arrive  to  tell  you,  that  Bathurst  went  physician  to 
the  army,  and  died  at  the  Havannah. 

"  I  know  not  whether  I  have  not  sent  you  word  that 
Huggins  and  Richardson  are  both  dead.  When  we 
see  our  enemies  and  friends  gliding  away  before  us,  let 
us  not  forget  that  we  are  subject  to  the  general  law  of 
mortality,  and  shall  soon  be  where  our  doom  will  be 
fixed  for  ever. 

"  I  pray  God  to  bless  you,  and  am,  Sir, 

"  Your  most  affectionate  humble  servant, 

"  Sam.  Johnson." 

"  Write  soon." 

In  1763  he  furnished  to  "  The  Poetical  Calendar," 
published  by  Fawkes  and  Woty,  a  character  of  Collins,* 
which  he  afterwards  ingrafted  into  his  entire  life  of  that 

.302  HIE    LIFE    Oi 

J 763.  admirable  poet,  in  the  collection  of  lives  which  he 
Sat!  wrote  *or  tne  body  of  English  poetry,  formed  and  pub- 
54.  '  lished  by  the  booksellers  of  London.  His  account  of 
the  melancholy  depression  with  which  Collins  was  se- 
verely afflicted,  and  which  brought  him  to  his  grave, 
is,  I  think,  one  of  the  most  tender  and  interesting  pas- 
sages in  the  whole  series  of  his  writings.  He  also  fa- 
voured Mr.  Hoole  with  the  Dedication  of  his  transla- 
tion of  Tasso  to  the  Queen,*  which  is  so  happily  con- 
ceived and  elegantly  expressed,  that  1  cannot  but  point 
it  out  to  the  peculiar  notice  of  my  readers.3 

This  is  to  me  a  memorable  year  ;  for  in  it  I  had  the 
happiness  to  obtain  the  acquaintance  of  that  extraordi- 
nary man  whose  memoirs  1  am  now  writing ;  an  ac- 
quaintance which  I  shall  ever  esteem  as  one  of  the  most 
fortunate  circumstances  in  my  life.  Though  then  but 
two-and-twenty,  1  had  for  several  years  read  his  works 
with  delight  and  instruction,  and  had  the  highest  rever- 
ence for  their  authour,  which  had  grown  up  in  my  fan- 
cy into  a  kind  of  mysterious  veneration,  by  figuring  to 
myself  a  state  of  solemn  elevated  abstraction,  in  which 
I  supposed  him  to  live  in  the  immense  metropolis  of 
London.  Mr.  Gentleman,  a  native  of  Ireland,  who 
passed  some  years  in  Scotland  as  a  player,  and  as  an  in- 
structor in  the  English  language,  a  man  whose  talents 


E  "  Madam, 

"  To  approach  the  high  and  illustrious  has  been  in  all  ages  the  privilege  of 
Poets  ;  and  though  translators  cannot  justly  claim  the  same  honour,  yet  thev  nat- 
urally follow  their  authours  as  attendants  ;  and  I  hope  that  in  return  for  having 
enabled  Tasso  to  diffuse  his  fame  through  the  British  dominions,  I  may  be  intro- 
duced by  him  to  the  presence  of  Your  Majesty. 

"Tasso  has  a  peculiar  claim  to  Your  Majesty's  favour,  as  follower  and  pane- 
gyrist of  the  House  of  Este,  which  has  one  common  ancestor  with  the  House  of 
Hanover  ;  and  in  reviewing  his  life  it  is  not  easy  to  forbear  a  wish  that  he  had 
lived  in  a  happier  time,  when  he  might  among  the  descendants  of  that  illustrious 
family  have  found  a  more  liberal  and  potent  patronage. 

"  I  cannot  but  observe,  Madam,  how  unequally  reward  is  proportioned  to  merit, 
when  I  reflect  that  the  happiness  which  was  withheld  from  Tasso  is  reserved  for 
me  ;  and  that  the  poem  which  once  hardly  procured  to  its  authour  the  counte- 
nance of  the  Princes  of  Ferrara,  has  attracted  to  its  translator  the  favourable  no- 
rice  of  a  British  Queen. 

"  Had  this  been  the  fate  of  Tasso,  he  would  have  been  able  to  have  celebrated  the 
condescension  of  Your  Majesty  in  nobler  language,  but  could  not  have  felt  it 
with  more  ardent  gratitude  than, 

"  Madam, 

,l  Your  Majesty's 

"  Most  faithful  and  devoted  servant.'' 

DR.   JOHNSON.  303 

and  worth  were  depressed  by  misfortunes,  had  given  rne  1763. 
a  representation  of  the  figure  and  manner  of  Diction-  $^ 
ary  Johnson  !  as  he  was  then  generally  called  ;9  and    ,34. 
during  my  first  visit  to  London,  which   was  for  three 
months  in  1760,  Mr.  Derrick  the  poet,  who  was  Gen- 
tleman's   friend  and    countryman,    flattered   me    with 
hopes  that  he  would  introduce  me  to  Johnson,  an  hon- 
our of  which    1    was  very  ambitious.     But  he  never 
found  an  opportunity  ;  which  made  me  doubt  that  he 
had  promised  to  do  what  was  not  in  his  power  ;  till  John- 
son   some   years    afterwards  told    me,   "  Derrick,   Sir, 
might  verv  well  have  introduced  vou.     I  had  a  kindness 
for  Derrick,  and  am  sorry  he  is  dead." 

In  the  summer  of  1761  Mr.  Thomas  Sheridan  was  at 
Edinburgh,  and  delivered  lectures  upon  the  English 
Language  and  Publicfc  Speaking  to  large  and  respecta- 
ble audiences.  1  was  often  in  his  company,  and  heard 
him  frequently  expatiate  upon  Johnson's  extraordinary 
knowledge,  talents,  and  virtues,  repeat  his  pointed  say- 
ings, describe  his  particularities,  and  boast  of  his  being- 
his  guest  sometimes  till  two  or  three  in  the  morning. 
At  his  house  I  hoped  to  have  many  opportunities  of 
seeing  the  sage,  as  Mr.  Sheridan  obligingly  assured  me 
I  should  not  be  disappointed. 

When  1  returned  to  London  in  the  end  of  1762,  to 
my  surprise  and  regret  I  found  an  irreconcileable  dif- 
ference had  taken  place  between  Johnson  and  Sher- 
idan. A  pension  of  two  hundred  pounds  a  year  had 
been  given  to  Sheridan.  Johnson,  who,  as  has  been 
already  mentioned,  thought  slightingly  of  Sheridan's 
art,  upon  hearing  that  he  was  also  pensioned,  exclaimed, 
"  What !  have  they  given  him  a  pension  ?  Then  it  is 
time  for  me  to  give  up  mine."  Whether  this  proceeded 
from  a  momentary  indignation,  as  if  it  were  an  affront  to 
his  exalted  merit  that  a  player  should  be  rewarded  in  the 
same  manner  with  him,  or  was  the  sudden  effect  of  a 

*  As  great  men  of  antiquity  such  as  Scipio  had  an  epithet  added  to 
their  names,  in  consequence  of  some  celebrated  action,  so  my  illustrious  friend  was 
«ften  called  Dictionary  Johnson,  from  that  wonderful  atchievement  of  genius 
and  labour, his  "Dictionary  of  the  English  Language ;"  tV  merit  efv/Kieh  Icoflr 
template  with  more  and  mor  ■  .  di :,;r:4»:':r. 

304  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  fit  of  peevishness,  it  was  unluckily  said,  and,  indeed, 
JJ^  cannot  be  justified.  Mr.  Sheridan's  pension  was  grant- 
34.  ed  to  him  not  as  a  player,  but  as  a  sufferer  in  the  cause 
of  government,  when  he  was  manager  of  the  Theatre 
Royal  in  Ireland,  when  parties  ran  high  in  1753.  And 
it  must  also  be  allowed  that  he  was  a  man  of  literature, 
and  had  considerably  improved  the  arts  of  reading  and 
speaking  with  distinctness  and  propriety. 

Besides,  Johnson  should  have  recollected  that  Mr. 
Sheridan  taught  pronunciation  to  Mr.  Alexander  Wed- 
derburne,  whose  sister  was  married  to  Sir  Harry  Er- 
skine,  an  intimate  friend  of  Lord  Bute,  who  was  the 
favourite  of  the  King  ;  and  surely  the  most  outrageous 
Whig  will  not  maintain,  that,  whatever  ought  to  be  the 
principle  in  the  disposal  of  offices,  a  pension  ought  never 
to  be  granted  from  any  bias  of  court  connection.  Mr. 
Macklin,  indeed,  shared  with  Mr.  Sheridan  the  honour 
of  instructing  Mr.  Wedderburne  ;  and  though  it  was 
too  late  in  life  for  a  Caledonian  to  acquire  the  genuine 
English  cadence,  yet  so  successful  were  Mr.  Wedder- 
burne's  instructors,  and  his  own  unabating  endeavours, 
that  he  got  rid  of  the  coarse  part  of  his  Scotch  accent, 
retaining  only  as  much  of  the  "  native  wood-note  wild/' 
as  to  mark  his  country  ;  which,  if  any  Scotchman 
should  affect  to  forget,  I  should  heartily  despise  him. 
Notwithstanding  the  difficulties  which  are  to  be  en- 
countered by  those  who  have  not  had  the  advantage  of 
an  English  education,  he  by  degrees  formed  a  mode  of 
speaking,  to  which  Englishmen  do  not  deny  the  praise 
of  elegance.  Hence  his  distinguished  oratory,  which 
he  exerted  in  his  own  country  as  an  advocate  in  the 
Court  of  Session,  and  a  ruling  elder  of  the  Kirk,  has 
had  its  fame  and  ample  reward,  in  much  higher  spheres. 
When  I  look  back  on  this  noble  person  at  Edinburgh, 
in  situations  so  unworthy  of  his  brilliant  powers,  and 
behold  Lord  Loughborough  at  London,  the  change 
seems  almost  like  one  of  the  metamorphoses  in  Ovic!  ; 
and  as  his  two  preceptors,  by  refining  his  utterance, 
gave  currency  to  his  talents,  we  may  say  in  the  words 
of  that  poet,  "  Nam  vos  mutasiis." 

Bfc.   JOHNSON.  306 

i   have  dwelt  the  longer  upon   this  remarkable  in- 1763. 
stance  of  successful   parts  and   assiduity  ;   because   it  JeJ££ 
affords  animating  encouragement  to  other  gentlemen   54. 
of  North-Britain  to  try  their  fortunes  in  the  southern 
part  of  the  island,  where  they  may  hope  to  gratify  their 
utmost  ambition  ;  and  now  that  we  are  one  people  by 
the  Union,  it  would  surely  be  illiberal  to  maintain,  that 
they  have  not  an  equal  title  with  the  natives  of  any 
other  part  of  his  Majesty's  dominions. 

Johnson  complained  that  a  man  who  disliked  him 
repeated  his  sarcasm  to  Mr.  Sheridan,  without  telling 
him  what  followed,  which  was,  that  after  a  pause  he 
added,  "  However,  I  am  glad  that  Mr.  Sheridan  has  a 
pension,  for  he  is  a  very  good  man."  Sheridan  could 
never  forgive  this  hasty  contemptuous  expression.  It 
rankled  in  his  mind  ;  and  though  I  informed  him  of 
all  that  Johnson  said,  and  that  he  would  be  very  glad 
to  meet  him  amicably,  he  positively  declined  repeated 
offers  which  I  made,  and  once  went  off  abruptly  from 
a  house  where  he  and  1  were  engaged  to  dine,  because 
he  was  told  that  Dr.  Johnson  was  to  be  there.  1  have 
no  sympathetick  feeling  with  such  persevering  resent- 
ment, it  is  painful  when  there  is  a  breach  between 
those  who  have  lived  together  socially  and  cordially  ; 
and  1  wonder  that  there  is  not,  in  all  such  cases,  a 
mutual  wish  that  it  should  be  healed.  I  could  perceive 
that  Mr.  Sheridan  was  by  no  means  satisfied  with  John- 
son's  acknowledging  him  to  be  a  good  man.  That 
could  not  soothe  his  injured  vanity.  I  could  not  but 
smile,  at  the  same  time  that  I  was  offended,  to  observe 
Sheridan  in  the  Life  of  Swift,  which  he  afterwards  pub- 
lished, attempting,  in  the  writhings  of  his  resentment, 
to  depreciate  Johnson,  by  characterising  him  as  "  A 
writer  of  gigantick  fame,  in  these  days  of  little  men  ;" 
that  very  Johnson  whom  he  once  so  highly  admired 
and  venerated. 

This  rupture  with  Sheridan  deprived  Johnson  of  one 
of  his  most  agreeable  resources  for  amusement  in  his 
lonely  evenings  ;  for  Sheridan's  well-informed,  animat- 
ed, and  bustlinsr  mind  never  suffered  conversation  to 
stagnate  ;  and  Mrs.  Sheridan  was  a  most  agreeable 
vol.  j.  39 

JOll  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  companion  to  an  intellectual  man.     She  was  sensible, 
iEtat'  ingenious,   unassuming,  yet  communicative.     I  recol- 

54.  lect,  with  satisfaction,  many  pleasing  hours  which  I  pass- 
ed with  her  under  the  hospitable  roof  of  her  husband, 
who  was  to  me  a  very  kind  friend.  Her  novel,  entitled 
"  Memoirs  of  Miss  Sydney  Biddulph,"  contains  an  ex- 
cellent moral,  while  it  inculcates  a  future  state  of  re- 
tribution ;"*  and  what  it  teaches  is  impressed  upon  the 
mind  by  a  series  of  as  deep  distress  as  can  affect* 
humanity,  in  the  amiable  and  pious  heroine  who  goes 
to  her  grave  unrelieved,  but  resigned,  and  full  of  hope 
of  "  heaven's  mercy."  Johnson  paid  her  this  high 
compliment  upon  it  :  "I  know  not,  Madam,  that  you 
have  a  right,  upon  moral  principles,  to  make  your  read- 
ers suffer  so  much." 

Mr.  Thomas  Da  vies  the  actor,  who  then  kept  a 
bookseller's  shop  in  llussel-street,  Covent-garden,1 
told  me  that  Johnson  was  very  much  his  friend,  and 

:  My  position  has  been  very  well  illustrated  by  Mr.  Belsham  of  Bedford,  in  his 
Essay  on  Dramatick  Poetry.  "  The  fashionable  doctrine  (says  he)  both  of  moral- 
ists and  criticks  in  these  times  is,  that  virtue  and  happiness  are  constant  concomi- 
tants ;  and  it  is  regarded  as  a  kind  of  dramatick  impiety  to  maintain  that  virtue 
should  not  be  rewarded,  nor  vice  punished  in  the  last  scene  of  the  last  act  of  every 
'.ragedy.  This  conduct  in  our  modern  poets  is,  however,  in  my  opinion,  extreme- 
ly injudicious  ;  for,  it  labours  in  vain  to  inculcate  a  doctrine  in  theory,  which  every 
one  knows  to  be  false  in  fact,  i/iz.  that  virtue  in  real  life  is  always  productive  of 
happiness  ;  and  vice  of  misery.  Thus  Congreve  concludes  the  Tragedy  of  '  The 
Mourning  Bride'  with  the  following  foolish  couplet : 

'  For  blessings  ever  wait  on  virtuous  deeds, 
'  And,  though  a  late,  a  sure  reward  succeeds.' 

"  When  a  man  eminently  virtuous,  a  Brutus,  a  Cato,  or  a  Socrates  finally  sink 
under  the  pressure  of  accumulated  misfortune,  we  are  not  only  led  to  entertain  a 
more  indignant  hatred  of  vice,  than  if  he  rose  from  his  distress,  but  we  are  inevi- 
tably induced  to  cherish  the  sublime  idea  that  a  day  of  future  retribution  will  ar- 
rive when  he  shall  receive  not  merely  poetical,  but  real  and  substantial  justice." 
Essays  Philosophical,  Historical,  and  Literary,  London,  1791,  Vol.  li.  3vo.  p.  317. 

This  is  well  reasoned  and  well  expressed.  I  wish,  indeed,  that  the  ingenious  au- 
thour  had  not  thought  it  necessary  to  introduce  auy  instance  of  "  a  man  eminently 
virtuous  ;"  as  he  would  then  have  avoided  mentioning  such  a  ruffian  as  Brutus  un- 
der that  description.  Mr.  Belsham  discovers  in  his  "  Essays"  so  much  reading  and 
thinking,  and  good  composition,  that  I  regret  his  not  having  been  fortunate  enough 
to  be  educated  a  member  of  our  excellent  national  establishment.  Had  he  not 
been  nursed  in  nonconformity,  he  probably  would  not  have  been  tainted  with 
those  heresies  (as  I  sincerely,  and  on  no  slight  investigation,  think  them)  both  in 
religion  and  politicks,  which,  while  I  read,  1  am  sure,  with  candour,  I  cannot  read 
without  offence. 

'  No.  8. — The  very  place  where  I  was  fortunate  enough  to  be  introduced  to  the 
trious  subject  of  this  work,  deserves  to  be  particularly  marked.     I  never  pas? 
.  it,  without  ft   ■   1    reverence  and  regret. 


DR.    JOHNSON.  107 

came  frequently  to  his  house,  where  he  more  than  1763. 
once  invited  me  to  meet  him  ;  but  by  some  unlucky  )f^ 
accident  or  other  he  was  prevented  from  coming  to  us.   54. 

Mr.  Thomas  Davies  was  a  man  of  good  understand- 
ing and  talents,  with  the  advantage  of  a  liberal  educa- 
Hon.  Though  somewhat  pompous,  he  was  an  enter- 
taining companion  ;  and  his  literary  performances  have 
no  inconsiderable  share  of  merit.  He  was  a  friendly 
and  very  hospitable  man.  Both  he  and  his  wife,  (who 
has  been  celebrated  for  her  beauty,)  though  upon  the 
stage  for  many  years,  maintained  an  uniform  decency 
of  character  ;  and  Johnson  esteemed  them,  and  lived 
in  as  easy  an  intimacy  with  them  as  with  any  family 
which  he  used  to  visit.  Mr.  Davies  recollected  several 
of  Johnson's  remarkable  sayings,  and  was  one  of  the 
best  of  the  many  imitators  of  his  voice  and  manner, 
while  relating  them.  He  increased  my  impatience 
more  and  more  to  see  the  extraordinary  man  whose 
works  I  highly  valued,  and  whose  conversation  was  re- 
ported to  be  so  peculiarly  excellent. 

At  last,  on  Monday  the  16th  of  Mav,  when  I  was 
sitting  in  Mr.  Davies's  back-parlour,  after  having  drunk 
tea  with  him  and  Mrs.  Davies,  Johnson  unexpectedly 
came  into  the  shop  ;*  and  Mr.  Davies  having  perceived 
him  through  the  glass-door  in  the  room  in  which  we 
were  sitting,  advancing  towards  us, — he  announced  his 
awful  approach  to  me,  somewhat  in  the  manner  of  an 
actor  in  the  part  of  Horatio,  when  he  addresses  Hamlet 
on  the  appearance  of  his  father's  ghost,  "  Look,  my 
Lord,  it  comes."  I  found  that  I  had  a  very  perfect 
idea  of  Johnson's  figure,  from  the  portrait  of  him  paint- 
ed by  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  soon  after  he  had  published 
his   Dictionary,  in  the  attitude  of  sitting  in  his  easy 

4  Mr.  Murphv  in  his  "  Essay  on  the  Life  and  Genius  of  Dr.  Johnson,"  has  given 
an  account  of  this  meeting  considerably  different  from  mine,  I  am  persuaded  with- 
out any  consciousness  of  errour.  His  memory,  at  the  end  of  near  thirty  years,  has 
undoubtedly  deceived  him,  and  he  supposes  himself  to  have  been  present  at  a  scene, 
which  he  has  probably  heard  inaccurately  described  by  others.  In  my  note  taken 
on  toe  very  day,  in  which  I  am  confident  1  marked  every  thing  material  that  passed, 
no  mention  is  made  of  this  gentleman ;  and  I  am  sure,  that  I  should  not  have  omit- 
ted one  so  well  known  in  the  literary  world.  It  may  easily  be  imagined  that  this 
my  first  interview  with  Dr.  Johnson,  with  all  its  circumstances,  made  a  strong  im- 
pression on  my  mind,  and  would  be  registered  with  peculiar  attention. 

308  THE    LIFE    Of 

1763.  chair  in  deep  meditation  ;  which  was  the  first  picture 
^^  his  friend  did  for  him,  which  Sir  Joshua  very  kindly 
54.  presented  to  me,  and  from  which  an  engraving  has  been 
made  for  this  work.  Mr.  Davies  mentioned  my  name, 
and  respectfully  introduced  me  to  him.  I  was  much 
agitated  ;  and  recollecting  his  prejudice  against  the 
Scotch,  of  which  I  had  heard  much,  I  said  to  Davies, 
61  Don't  tell  where  I  come  from.'1 — "  From  Scotland," 
cried  Davies,  roguishly.  "  Mr.  Johnson,  (said  1)  I  do 
indeed  come  from  Scotland,  but  I  cannot  help  it."  I 
am  willing  to  flatter  myself  that  I  meant  this  as  light 
pleasantry  to  sooth  and  conciliate  him,  and  not  as  an 
humiliating  abasement  at  the  expence  of  my  country. 
But  however  that  might  be,  this  speech  was  somewhat 
unlucky  :  for  with  that  quickness  of  wit  for  which  he 
was  so  remarkable,  he  seized  the  expression  "  come 
from  Scotland,"  which  I  used  in  the  sense  of  being  of 
that  country  ;  and,  as  if  1  had  said  that  I  had  come 
away  from  it,  or  left  it,  retorted,  "  That,  Sir,  I  find,  is 
what  a  very  great  many  of  your  countrymen  cannot 
help."  This  stroke  stunned  me  a  good  deal ;  and  when 
we  had  sat  down,  I  felt  mvself  not  a  little  embarrassed, 
and  apprehensive  of  what  might  come  next.  He  then 
addressed  himself  to  Davies  :  "  What  do  you  think  of 
Garrick  1  He  has  refused  me  an  order  for  the  play  for 
Miss  Williams,  because  he  knows  the  house  will  be 
full,  and  that  an  order  would  be  worth  three  shillings." 
Eager  to  take  any  opening  to  get  into  conversation 
with  him,  I  ventured  to  say,  "  O,  Sir,  I  cannot  think 
Mr.  Garrick  would  grudge  such  a  trifle  to  you."  "  Sir, 
(said  he,  with  a  stern  look,)  I  have  known  David  Gar- 
rick longer  than  you  have  done  :  and  I  know  no  right 
you  have  to  talk  to  me  on  the  subject."  Perhaps  I 
deserved  this  check  ;  for  it  was  rather  presumptuous  in 
me,  an  entire  stranger,  to  express  any  doubt  of  the  jus- 
tice of  his  animadversion  upon  his  old  acquaintance  and 
pupil. 5      I  now  felt  myself  much  mortified,  and  began 

5  That  this  was  a  momentary  sally  against  Garrick  there  can  be  no  doubt ;  for 
at  Johnson's  desire  he  had,  some  years  before,  given  a  benefit-night  at  his  theatre 
io  this  very  person,  by  which  she  had  got  two  hundred  pounds.  Johnson,  indeed, 
upon  all  other  occasions,  when  I  was  in  his  company,  praised  the  very  liberal  char- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  309 

10  think  that  the  hope  which  I   had  long  indulged  of  1763. 
obtaining  his  acquaintance  was  blasted.     And,  in  truth,  ^tat! 
had  not  my  ardour  been  uncommonly  strong,  and  my   54. 
resolution  uncommonly  persevering,  so  rough  a  recep- 
tion might  have  deterred  me  for  ever  from  making  any 
further  attempts.     Fortunately,  however,   1   remained 
upon  the  field  not  wholly  discomfited  ;  and  was  soon 
rewarded  by  hearing  some  of  his  conversation,  of  which 
I  preserved  the  following  short  minute,  without  mark- 
ing the  questions  and  observations  by  which   it  was 

"  People  (he  remarked)  may  be  taken  in  once,  who 
imagine  that  an  authour  is  greater  in  private  life  than 
other  men.  Uncommon  parts  require  uncommon  op- 
portunities for  their  exertion. 

"  in  barbarous  society,  superiority  of  parts  is  of  real 
consequence.  Great  strength  or  great  wisdom  is  of 
much  value  to  an  individual.  But  in  more  polished 
times  there  are  people  to  do  every  thing  for  money  ; 
and  then  there  are  a  number  of  other  superiorities, 
such  as  those  of  birth  and  fortune,  and  rank,  that  dissi- 
pate men's  attention,  and  leave  no  extraordinary  share 
of  respect  for  personal  and  intellectual  superiority. 
This  is  wisely  ordered  by  Providence,  to  preserve  some 
equality  among  mankind." 

"  Sir,  this  book  ('  The  Elements  of  Criticism,' 
which  he  had  taken  up,)  is  a  pretty  essay,  and  deserves 
to  be  held  in  some  estimation,  though  much  of  it  is 

Speaking  of  one  who  with  more  than  ordinary  bold- 
ness attacked  publick  measures  and  the  royal  family, 
he  said,  "  I  think  he  is  safe  from  the  law,  but  he  is 
an  abusive  scoundrel  ;  and  instead  of  applying  to  my 
Lord  Chief  Justice  to  punish  him,  I  would  send  half 
a  dozen  footmen  and  have  him  well  ducked." 

"  The  notion  of  liberty  amuses  the  people  of  Eng- 
land, and  helps  to  keep  off  the  tcedium  vitce.     When  a 

ity  of  Garrick.  I  once  mentioned  to  him,  "  It  is  observed,  Sir,  that  you  attack 
Garrick  yourself,  but  will  euffer  nobody  eke  t<>  do  it."  Johnson,  (smiling)  "  Why, 
Sir,  that  is  true." 

310  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  butcher  tells  you  that  his  heart  bleeds  for  his  country, 
j?^  he  has,  in  fact,  no  uneasy  feeling." 
54.        "  Sheridan  will  not  succeed  at  Bath  with  his  ora- 
tory.    Ridicule  has  gone  down   before   him,  and,   I 
doubt,  Derrick  is  his  enemy.6 

"  Derrick  may  do  very  well,  as  long  as  he  can  out- 
run his  character  ;  but  the  moment  his  character  gets 
up  with  him,  it  is  all  over." 

It  is,  however,  but  just  to  record,  that  some  years 
afterwards,  when  I  reminded  him  of  this  sarcasm,  he 
said,  "  Well,  but  Derrick  has  now  got  a  character 
that  he  need  not  run  away  from." 

1  was  highly  pleased  with  the  extraordinary  vigour 
of  his  conversation,  and  regretted  that  I  was  drawn 
away  from  it  by  an  engagement  at  another  place.  I 
had,  for  a  part  of  the  evening,  been  left  alone  with 
him,  and  had  ventured  to  make  an  observation  now 
and  then,  which  he  received  very  civilly  ;  so  that  I 
was  satisfied  that  though  there  was  a  roughness  in  his 
manner,  there  was  no  ill-nature  in  his  disposition. 
Davics  followed  me  to  the  door,  and  when  I  complain- 
ed to  him  a  little  of  the  hard  blows  which  the  great 
man  had  given  me,  he  kindly  took  upon  him  to  console 
me  by  saying,  "  Don't  be  uneasy.  I  can  see  he  likes 
you  very  well." 

A  few  days  afterwards  I  called  on  Davies,  and  asked 
him  if  he  thought  I  might  take  the  liberty  of  waiting 
on  Mr.  Johnson  at  his  chambers  in  the  Temple.  He 
said  I  certainly  might,  and  that  Mr.  Johnson  would 
take  it  as  a  compliment.  So  upon  Tuesday  the  24th 
of  May,  after  having  been  enlivened  by  the  witty  sal- 
lies of  Messieurs  Thornton,  Wilkes,  Churchill  and 
Lloyd,  with  whom  I  had  passed  the  morning,  I  boldly 
repaired  to  Johnson.  His  Chambers  were  on  the  first 
floor  of  No.  1,  Inner-Temple-lane,  and  I  entered  them 
with  an  impression  given  me  by  the  Reverend  Dr. 
Blair,  of  Edinburgh,  who  had  been  introduced  to  him 
not  long  before,  and  described  his  having  "  found  the 

6  Mr.  Sheridan  was  then  reading  lectures  upon  Oratory  at  Bath,  where  Derrick 
;vas  master  of  the  Ceremonies  ;  or,  as  the  phrase  is,  King, 

DR.    JOHNSON.  311 

Giant  in  his  den  ;"  an  expression,  which,  when  I  came  1763. 
to  be  pretty  well  acquainted  with  Johnson,  1  repeated  J^ 
to  him,  and  he  was  diverted  at  this  picturesque  account  54. 
of  himself.  Dr.  Blair  had  been  presented  to  him  by 
Dr.  James  Fordyce.  At  this  time  the  controversy  con- 
cerning the  pieces  published  by  Mr.  James  Macpher- 
son,  as  translations  of  Ossian,  was  at  its  height.  John- 
son had  all  along-  denied  their  authenticity  ;  and,  what 
was  still  more  provoking  to  their  admirers,  maintained 
that  they  had  no  merit.  The  subject  having  been  in- 
troduced by  Dr.  Fordyce,  Dr.  Blair,  relying  on  the  in- 
ternal evidence  of  their  antiquity,  asked  Dr.  Johnson 
whether  he  thought  any  man  of  a  modern  age  could  have 
written  such  poems  ?  Johnson  replied,  "  Yes,  Sir, 
many  men,  many  women,  and  many  children."  ohn- 
son,  at  this  time,  did  not  know  that  Dr.  Blair  had  just, 
published  a  Dissertation,  not  only  defending  their  au- 
thenticity, but  seriously  ranking  them  with  the  poems 
of  Homer  and  Virgil  ;  anil  when  he  was  afterwards  in- 
formed of  this  circumstance,  he  expressed  some  dis- 
pleasure at  Dr.  Fordyce's  having  suggested  the  topick, 
and  said,  "  I  am  not  sorry  that  they  got  thus  much 
for  their  pains.  Sir,  it  was  like  leading  one  to  talk 
of  a  book,  when  the  authour  is  concealed  behind  the 

He  received  me  very  courteously  ;  but,  it  must  be 
confessed,  that  his  apartment,  and  furniture,  and  morn- 
ing dress,  were  sufficiently  uncouth.  His  brown  suit 
of  cloaths  looked  very  rusty  ;  he  had  on  a  little  old 
shrivelled  unpowdered  wig,  which  was  too  small  for 
his  head  ;  his  shirt-neck  and  knees  of  his  breeches 
were  loose  ;  his  black  worsted  stockings  ill  drawn  up  ; 
and  he  had  a  pair  of  unbuckled  shoes  by  way  of 
slippers.  But  all  these  slovenly  particularities  were 
forgotten  the  moment  that  he  bei?an  to  talk.  Some 
gentlemen,  whom  I  do  not  recollect,  were  sitting  with 
him  ;  and  when  they  went  away,  I  also  rose  ;  but  he 
said  to  me,  "  Nay,  don't  go." — "  Sir,  (said  I,)  1  am 
afraid  that  1  intrude  upon  you.  It  is  benevolent  to  al- 
low me  to  sit  and  hear  you."  He  seemed  pleased  with 
this  compliment,  which  I  sincerely  paid  him,  and  an- 

31*  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  svvered,  "  Sir,  I  am  obliged  to  any  man  who  visits  me." 
jJJ^  I  have  preserved  the  following  short  minute  of  what 
54,  '  passed  this  day. 

"  Madness  frequently  discovers  itself  merely  by  un- 
necessary deviation  from  the  usual  modes  of  the  world. 
My  poor  friend  Smart  shewed  the  disturbance  of  his 
mind,  by  falling  upon  his  knees,  and  saying  his  prayers 
in  the  street,  or  in  any  other  unusual  place.  Now  al- 
though, rationally  speaking,  it  is  greater  madness  not 
to  pray  at  all,  than  to  pray  as  Smart  did,  I  am  afraid 
there  are  so  many  who  do  not  pray,  that  their  under- 
standing is  not  called  in  question/' 

Concerning  this  unfortunate  poet,  Christopher  Smart, 
who  was  confined  in  a  mad-house,  he  had,  at  another 
time,  the  following  conversation  with  Dr.  Burney. — ■ 
Burney.  "  How  does  poor  Smart  do,  Sir ;  is  he  likely 
to  recover  1"  Johnson.  "  It  seems  as  if  his  mind  had 
ceased  to  struggle  with  the  disease ;  for  he  grows  fat 
upon  it."  Burney.  "Perhaps,  Sir,  that  may  be  from 
want  of  exercise."  Johnson.  "  No,  Sir;  he  has  part- 
ly as  much  exercise  as  he  used  to  have,  for  he  digs  in 
the  garden.  Indeed,  before  his  confinement,  he  used 
for  exercise  to  walk  to  the  alehouse  ;  but  he  was  carri- 
ed back  again.  I  did  not  think  he  ought  to  be  shut  up. 
His  infirmities  were  not  noxious  to  society.  He  insist- 
ed on  people  praying  with  him  ;  and  Vd  as  lief  pray 
with  Kit  Smart  as  any  one  else.  Another  charge  was, 
that  he  did  not  love  clean  linen  ;  and  I  have  no  passion 
for  it."— 

Johnson  continued.  "  Mankind  have  a  great  aver- 
sion to  intellectual  labour  ;  but  even  supposing  knowl- 
edge to  be  easily  attainable,  more  people  would  be  con- 
tent to  be  ignorant  than  would  take  even  a  little  trou- 
ble to  acquire  it." 

"  The  morality  of  an  action  depends  on  the  motive 
from  which  we  act.  If  1  fling  half  a  crown  to  a  beggar 
with  intention  to  break  his  head,  and  he  picks  it  up 
and  buys  victuals  with  it,  the  physical  effect  is  good  ; 
but,  with  respect  to  me,  the  action  is  very  wrong.  So, 
religious  exercises,  if  not  performed  with  an  intention 
to  please  God,  avail  us  nothing.     As  our  Saviour  says 

DR.   JOHNSON.  313 

of  those  who  perform  them  from  other  motives,  *  Veri- 1763. 
Jy  they  have  their  reward/  jEuu! 

"  The  Christian  religion  has  very  strong  evidences.  54. 
It,  indeed,  appears  in  some  degree  strange  to  reason  ; 
but  in  History  we  have  undoubted  facts,  against  which, 
in  reasoning  a  priori,  we  have  more  arguments  than  we 
have  for  them  ;  but  then,  testimony  has  great  weight, 
and  casts  the  balance.  I  would  recommend  to  every 
man  whose  faith  is  yet  unsettled,  Grotius, — Dr.  Fear- 
son, — and  Dr.  Clarke." 

Talking  of  Garrick,  he  said,  "  He  is  the  first  man 
in  the  world  for  sprightly  conversation  " 

When  I  rose  a  second  time  he  again  pressed  me  to 
stay,  which  I  did. 

He  told  me,  that  he  generally  went  abroad  at  four 
in  the  afternoon,  and  seldom  came  home  till  two  in  the 
morning.  1  took  the  liberty  to  ask  if  he  did  not  think 
it  wrong  to  live  thus,  and  not  make  more  use  of  his 
great  talents.  He  owned  it  was  a  bad  habit.  On  re- 
viewing, at  the  distance  of  many  years,  my  journal  of 
this  period,  I  wonder  how,  at  my  first  visit,  I  ventured 
to  talk  to  him  so  freely,  and  that  he  bore  it  with  so 
much  indulgence. 

Before  we  parted,  he  was  so  good  as  to  promise  to 
favour  me  with  his  company  one  evening  at  my  lodg- 
ings ;  and,  as  I  took  my  leave,  shook  me  cordially  by 
the  hand.  It  is  almost  needless  to  add,  that  1  felt  no 
little  elation  at  having  now  so  happily  established  an 
acquaintance  of  which  1  had  been  so  long  ambitious. 

My  readers,  will,  I  trust,  excuse  me  for  being  thus 
minutely  circumstantial,  when  it  is  considered  that  the 
acquaintance  of  Dr.  Johnson  was  to  me  a  most  valuable 
acquisition,  and  laid  the  foundation  of  whatever  in- 
struction and  entertainment  they  may  receive  from  my 
collections  concerning  the  great  subject  of  the  work 
which  they  are  now  perusing. 

I  did  not  visit  him  again  till  Monday,  June  13,  at 
which  time  [  recollect  no  part  of  his  conversation,  ex- 
cept that  when  I  told  him  I  had  been  to  see  Johnson  ride 
upon  three  horses,  he  said,  "  Such  a  man,  Sir,  should  be 
encouraged  ;  for  his  performances  shew  the  extent  of 

VOL.   T.  40 

314-  THE    LIFE    Of 

1763.  the  human  powers  in  one  instance,  and  thus  tend  to  raise 
fe£^  our  °P'inon  °f  trie  faculties  of  man.  He  shews  what 
54.  may  be  attained  by  persevering;  application  ;  so  that  ev- 
ery man  may  hope,  that  by  giving  as  much  application, 
although  perhaps  he  may  never  ride  three  horses  at 
a  time,  or  dance  upon  a  wire,  yet  he  may  be  equally 
expert  in  whatever  profession  he  has  chosen  to  pursue." 

He  again  shook  me  by  the  hand  at  parting,  and  ask- 
ed me  why  I  did  not  come  oftener  to  him.  Trusting 
that  1  was  now  in  his  good  graces,  1  answered,  that  he  had 
not  given  me  much  encouragement,  and  reminded  him 
of  the  check  1  had  received  from  him  at  our  first  inter- 
view. "  Poh,  poh  !  (said  he,  with  a  complacent  smile,) 
never  mind  these  things.  Come  to  me  as  often  as 
you  can.     1  shall  be  glad  to  see  you." 

1  had  learnt  that  his  place  of  frequent  resort  was  the 
Mitre  tavern  in  Fleet-street,  where  he  loved  to  sit  up 
late,  and  I  begged  I  might  be  allowed  to  pass  an  even- 
ing with  him  there  soon,  which  he  promised  I  should, 
A  few  days  afterwards'  I  met  him  near  Temple-bar, 
about  one  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and  asked  if  he  would 
then  go  to  the  Mitre.  "  Sir,  (said  he)  it  is  too  late  ; 
they  won't  let  us  in.  But  I'll  go  with  you  another 
night  with  all  mv  heart." 

A  revolution  of  some  importance  in  my  plan  of  life 
had  just  taken  place  !  for  instead  of  procuring  a  com- 
mission in  the  foot-guards,  which  was  my  own  inclina- 
tion, i  had,  in  compliance  with  my  father's  wishes, 
agreed  to  study  the  law,  and  was  soon  to  set  out  for 
Utrecht,  to  hear  the  lectures  of  an  excellent  Civilian  in 
that  university,  and  then  to  proceed  on  my  travels. 
Though  very  desirous  of  obtaining  Dr.  Johnson's  ad- 
vice and  instructions  on  the  mode  of  pursuing  my 
studies,  1  was  at  this  time  so  occupied,  shall  I  call  it  I 
or  so  dissipated,  by  the  amusements  of  London,  that  our 
next  meeting  was  not  till  Saturday,  June  25,  when  hap- 
pening to  dine  at  Clifton's  eating-house,  in  Butcher  row, 
1.  was  surprised  to  perceive  Johnson  come  in  and  take 
his  seat  at  another  table.  The  mode  of  dining,  or  rath- 
er being  fed,  at  such  houses  in  London,  is  well  known 
to  many  to  be  particularly  unsocial,  as  there  is  no  ordi- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  ! 

nary,  or  united  company,  but  each  poison  has  his  own  1763. 
mess,  and  is  under  no  obligation  to  hold  any  inter-  ^^ 
course  with  any  one.     A  liberal  and  full-minded  man,   54. 

however,  who  loves  to  talk,  wiJl  break  through  this 
churlish  and  unsocial  restraint.  Johnson  and  an  Irish 
gentleman  got  into  a  dispute  concerning  the  cause  of 
some  part  of  mankind  being  black.  "  Why,  Sir,  (said 
Johnson,)  it  has  been  accounted  for  in  three  ways  : 
either  by  supposing  that  they  are  the  posterity  of  Ham, 
who  was  cursed  ;  or  that  God  at  first  created  two  kinds 
of  men,  one  black  and  another  white  ;  or  that  by  the 
heat  of  the  sun  the  skin  is  scorched,  and  so  acquires  a 
sooty  hue.  This  matter  has  been  much  canvassed 
anions:  naturalists,  but  has  never  been  brought  to  any 
certain  issue."  What  the  Irishman  said  is  totally  ob- 
literated from  my  mind  ;  but  1  remember  that  he  be- 
came very  warm  and  intemperate  in  his  expressions  : 
upon  which  Johnson  rose,  and  quietly  walked  away. 
"When  he  had  retired,  his  antagonist  took  his  revenge, 
as  he  thought,  by  saying,  "  He  has  a  most  ungainly  fig- 
ure, and  an  affectation  of  pomposity,  unworthy  of  a  man 
of  genius." 

Johnson  had  not  observed  that  I  was  in  the  room.  I 
followed  him,  however,  and  he  agreed  to  meet  me  in 
the  evening  at  the  Mitre.  I  called  on  him,  and  we 
went  thither  at  nine.  We  had  a  good  supper,  and  port 
wine,  of  which  he  then  sometimes  drank  a  bottle. 
The  orthodox  high-church  sound  of  the  Mitre, — the 
figure  and  manner  of  the  celebrated  Samuel  Johnson, 
— the  extraordinary  power  and  precision  of  his  conver- 
sation, and  the  pride  arising  from  finding  myself  admit- 
ted as  his  companion,  produced  a  variety  of  sensations, 
and  a  pleasing  elevation  of  mind  beyond  what  I  had  ev- 
er before  experienced.  1  find  in  my  Journal  the  follow- 
ing minute  of  our  conversation,  which,  though  it  will 
give  but  a  very  faint  notion  of  what  passed,  is,  in  some 
degree,  a  valuable  record  ;  and  it  will  be  curious  in  this 
view,  as  shewing  how  habitual  to  his  mind  were  some 
opinions  which  appear  in  his  works. 

"  Colley  Cibber,  Sir,  was  by  no  means  a  blockhead  ; 
but  by  arrogating  to  himself  too  much,  he  was  in  dan- 

316  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  ger  of  losing  that  degree  of  estimation  to  which  he  was 
$J^  entitled.  His  friends  gave  out  that  he  intended  his 
54.  birth-day  Odes  should  be  bad  :  but  that  was  not  the 
case,  Sir  ;  for  he  kept  them  many  months  by  him,  and 
a  few  years  before  he  died  he  shewed  me  one  of  them, 
with  great  solicitude  to  render  it  as  perfect  as  might  be, 
and  1  made  some  corrections,  to  which  he  was  not 
very  willing  to  submit..  I  remember  the  following 
couplet  in  allusion  to  the  King  and  himself: 

c  PerchM  on  the  eagle's  soaring  wing, 
4  The  lowly  linnet  loves  to  sing/ 

Sir,  he  had  heard  something  of  the  fabulous  tale  of  the 
wren  sitting  upon  the  eagle's  wing,  and  he  had  applied 
it  to  a  linnet.  Gibber's  familiar  style,  however,  was  bet- 
ter than  that  which  Whitehead  has  assumed.  Grand 
nonsense  is  insupportable.  Whitehead  is  but  a  little 
man  to  inscribe  verses  to  players." 

1  did  not  presume  to  controvert  this  censure,  which 
was  tinctured  with  his  prejudice  against  players,  but  I 
could  not  help  thinking  that  a  dramatick  poet  might 
with  propriety  pay  a  compliment  to  an  eminent  per- 
former, as  Whitehead  has  very  happily  done  in  his 
verses  to  Mr.  Garrick. 

"  Sir,  I  do  not  think  Gray  a  first-rate  poet.  He  has 
not  a  bold  imagination,  nor  much  command  of  words. 
The  obscurity  in  which  he  has  involved  himself  will 
siot  persuade  us  that  he  is  sublime.  His  Elegy  in  a 
church-yard  has  a  happy  selection  of  images,  but  I 
don't  like  what  are  called  his  great  things.  His  ode 
which  begins 

'  Ruin  seize  thee,  ruthless  King, 
*  Confusion  on  thy  banners  wait  !' 

has  been  celebrated  for  its  abruptness,  and  plunging  in- 
to the  subject  all  at  once.  But  such  arts  as  these  have 
no  merit,  unless  when  they  are  original.  We  admire  them 
only  once ;  and  this  abruptness  has  nothing  new  in  it. 
We  have  had  it  often  before.  Nay,  we  have  it  in  the 
old  song  of  Johnny  Armstrong  : 

DR.    JOHNSON.  31? 

Is  there  ever  a  man  in  all  Scotland  1763. 

>  From  the  highest  estate  to  the  lowest  degree,  &C*     ^Qt 

And  then,  Sir,  54' 

'  Yes,  there  is  a  man  in  Westmoreland 

'  And  Johnny  Armstrong  they  do  him  call.' 

There,  now,  you  plunge  at  once  into  the  subject.  You 
have  no  previous  narration  to  lead  you  to  it. — The  two 
next  lines  in  that  Ode  are,  1  think,  very  good  : 

i  Though  fann'd  by  conquest's  crimson  wing, 
*  They  mock  the  air  with  idle  state. 


Here  let  it  be  observed,  that  although  his  opinion  of 
Gray's  poetry  was  widely  different  from  mine,  and  1  be- 
lieve from  that  of  most  men  of  taste,  by  whom  it  is 
with  justice  highly  admired,  there  is  certainly  much  ab- 
surdity in  the  clamour  which  has  been  raised,  as  if  he 
had  been  culpably  injurious  to  the  merit  of  that  bard, 
and  had  been  actuated  by  envy.  Alas  !  ye  little  short- 
sighted criticks,  could  Johnson  be  envious  of  the  tal- 
ents  of  any  of  his  contemporaries  ?  That  his  opinion  on 
this  subject  was  what  in  private  and  in  publick  he  uni- 
formly expressed,  regardless  of  what  others  might  think, 
we  may  wonder,  and  perhaps  regret ;  but  it  is  shallow 
and  unjust  to  charge  him  with  expressing  what  he  did 
not  think. 

Finding  him  in  a  placid  humour,  and  wishing  to 
avail  myself  of  the  opportunity  which  1  fortunately  had 
of  consulting  a  sage,  to  hear  whose  wisdom,  1  conceiv- 
ed in  the  ardour  of  youthful  imagination,  that  men  fill- 
ed with  a  noble  enthusiasm  for  intellectual  improve- 
ment would  gladly  have  resorted  from  distant  lands ; — 
I  opened  my  mind  to  him  ingenuously,  and  gave  him 
a  little  sketch  of  my  life,  to  which  he  was  pleased  to 
listen  with  great  attention. 

I  acknowledged,  that  though  educated  very  strictly 
in  the  principles  of  religion,  1  had  for  some  time  been 
misled  into  a  certain  degree  of  infidelity  ;  but  that  I 

7  My  friend  Mr.  Malone,  in  his  valuable  comments  on  Shakspcare,  has  traced  in 
.-bat  great  poet  the  disjecta  membra  of  these  lines. 

318  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  was  come  now  to  a  better  way  of  thinking,  and  was 
jJgJU'  fully  satisfied  of  the  truth  of  the  Christian  revelation, 
54,  '  though  1  was  not  clear  as  to  every  point  considered  to 
be  orthodox.  Being  at  all  times  a  curious  examiner 
of  the  human  mind,  and  pleased  with  an  undisguised 
display  of  what  had  passed  in  it,  he  called  to  me  with 
warmth.  "  Give  me  your  hand  ;  I  have  taken  a  liking 
to  you."  He  then  began  to  descant  upon  the  force  of 
testimony,  and  the  little  we  could  know  of  final  causes  ; 
so  that  the  objections  of,  why  was  it  so  ?  or  why  was 
it  not  so  ?  ought  not  to  disturb  us  :  adding,  that  he 
himself  had  at  one  period  been  guilty  of  a  temporary 
neglect  of  religion,  but  that  it  was  not  the  result  of  ar- 
gument, but  mere  absence  of  thought. 

After  having  given  credit  to  reports  of  his  bigotry,  I 
was  agreeably  surprized  when  he  expressed  the  follow- 
ing very  liberal  sentiment,  which  has  the  additional 
value  of  obviating  an  objection  to  our  holy  religion, 
founded  upon  the  discordant  tenets  of  Christians  them- 
selves :  "  For  my  part,  Sir,  I  think  all  Christians, 
whether  Papists  or  Protestants,  agree  in  the  essential 
articles,  and  that  their  differences  are  trivial,  and  rather 
political  than  religious." 

We  talked  of  belief  in  ghosts.  He  said,  "  Sir,  I 
make  a  distinction  between  what  a  man  may  experi- 
ence by  the  mere  strength  of  his  imagination,  and 
what  imagination  cannot  possibly  produce.  Thus,  sup- 
pose 1  should  think  that  I  saw  a  form,  and  heard  a 
voice  cry  '  Johnson,  you  are  a  very  wicked  fellow,  and 
unless  you  repent  you  will  certainly  be  punished  ;'  my 
own  unworthiness  is  so  deeply  impressed  upon  my 
mind,  that  1  might  imagine  I  thus  saw  and  heard,  and 
therefore  1  should  not  believe  that  an  external  commu- 
nication had  been  made  to  me.  But  if  a  form  should 
appear,  and  a  voice  should  tell  me  that  a  particular 
man  had  died  at  a  particular  place,  and  a  particular 
hour,  a  fact  which  I  had  no  apprehension  of,  nor  any 
means  of  knowing,  and  this  fact,  with  all  its  circum- 
stances, should  afterwards  be  unquestionably  proved,  I 
should,  in  that  case  be  persuaded  that  I  had  supernat- 
ural intelligence  imparted  to  me." 

DR.    JOHNSON.  319 

Here  it  is  proper,  once  for  all,  to  give  a  true  and  fair  *763; 
statement  of  Johnson's  way  of  thinking  upon  theques-^^ 
tion,  whether  departed  spirits  are  ever  permitted  to  ap-  54. 
pear  in  this  world,  or  in  any  way  to  operate  upon  human 
life,  lie  has  been  ignorantly  misrepresented  as  weakly 
credulous  upon  that  subject  ;  and,  therefore,  though  I 
it  el  an  inclination  to  disdain  and  treat  with  silent  con- 
tempt so  foolish  a  notion  concerning  my  illustrious 
friend,  yet  as  1  rind  it  has  gained  ground,  it  is  necessa- 
ry to  refute  it.  The  real  fact  then  is,  that  Johnson  had 
a  very  philosophical  mind,  and  such  a  rational  respect 
for  testimony,  as  to  make  him  submit  his  understand- 
ing  to  what  was  authentically  proved,  though  he  could 
not  comprehend  why  it  was  so.  Being  thus  disposed, 
he  was  willing  to  enquire  into  the  truth  of  any  relation 
of  supernatural  agency,  a  general  belief  of  which  has 
prevailed  in  all  nations  and  ages.  But  so  far  was  he 
from  being  the  dupe  of  implicit  faith,  that  he  examined 
the  matter  with  a  jealous  attention,  and  no  man  was 
more  ready  to  refute  its  falshood  when  he  had  discov- 
ered it.  Churchill,  in  his  poem  entitled  "  The  Ghost," 
availed  himself  of  the  absurd  credulity  imputed  to  John- 
son, and  drew  a  caricature  of  him  under  the  name  of 
"  Pomposo,"  representing  him  as  one  of  the  believers 
of  the  story  of  a  Ghost  in  Cock-lane,  which,  in  the 
year  1762,  had  gained  very  general  credit  in  London. 
Many  of  my  readers,  I  am  convinced,  are  to  this  hour 
under  an  impression  that  Johnson  was  thus  foolishly 
deceived.  It  will  therefore  surprize  them  a  good  deal 
when  they  are  informed  upon  undoubted  authority, 
that  Johnson  was  one  of  those  by  whom  the  imposture 
was  detected.  The  story  had  become  so  popular,  that 
he  thought  it  should  be  investigated  ;  and  in  this  re- 
search he  was  assisted  by  the  Reverend  Dr.  Douglas, 
now  Bishop  of  Salisbury,  the  great  detector  of  impos- 
tures ;  who  informs  me,  that  after  the  uentlemen  who 
went  and  examined  into  the  evidence  were  satisfied  of 
its  falsity,  Johnson  wrote  in  their  presence  an  account 
of  it,  which  was  published  in  the  news-papers  and 
Gentleman's  Magazine,  and  undeceived  the  world.3 

8  The  account  was  as  follows  :  "  On  the  night  of  the  1st  of  February,  many  gen- 
tlemen eminent  for  their  rank  and  character,  were,  b-  the  invitation  of  the  Rev- 

320  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.       Our  conversation  proceeded.     "  Sir,  (said  he,)  I  am 
^fy  a  friend  to  subordination,  as  most  conducive  to  the  hap- 
54,    piness  oi  society.      1  here  is  a  reciprocal  pleasure  in 
governing  and  being  governed." 

"  Dr.  Goldsmith  is  one  of  the  first  men  we  now 
have  as  an  authour,  and  he  is  a  very  worthy  man  too, 
He  has  been  loose  in  his  principles,  but  he  is  coming 

I  mentioned  Mallet's  tragedy  of  "  Elvira,"  which 
had  been  acted  the  preceding  winter  at  Drury-lane, 
and  that  the  Honourable  Andrew  Erskine,  Mr.  Demp- 
ster, and  myself,  had  joined  in  writing  a  pamphlet,  en- 
titled "  Critical  Strictures"  against  it.9  That  the  mild- 
ness of  Dempster's  disposition,  had,  however,  relented  , 
and  he  had  candidly  said,  "  We  have  hardly  a  right  to 

erend  Mr.  Aldrich,  of  Clerkenwell,  assembled  at  his  house,  for  the  examination  of 
the  noises  supposed  to  be  made  by  a  departed  spirit,  for  the  detection  of  some 
enormous  crime. 

"  About  ten  at  night  the  gentlemen  met  in  the  chamber  in  which  the  girl,  sup- 
posed to  be  disturbed  by  a  spirit,  had,  with  proper  caution,  been  put  to  bed  by 
several  ladies.  Thev  sat  rather  more  than  an  hour,  and  hearing  nothing,  went 
down  stairs,  when  they  interrogated  the  father  of  the  girl,  who  denied,  in  the 
strongest  terms,  any  knowledge  or  belief  of  fraud. 

"  The  supposed  spirit  had  before  publickly  promised,  by  an  affirmative  knock, 
that  it  would  attend  one  of  the  gentlemen  into  the  vault  under  the  church  of  St. 
John,  Clerkenwell,  where  the  body  is  deposited,  and  give  a  token  of  her  presence 
there,  by  a  knock  upon  her  coffin  ;  it  was  therefore  determined  to  make  this  trial 
of  the  existence  or  veracity  of  the  supposed  spirit. 

"  While  they  were  enquiring  and  deliberating,  they  were  summoned  into  th* 
girl's  chamber  by  some  ladies  who  were  near  her  bed,  and  who  had  heard  knocks 
and  scratches.  When  the  gentlemen  entered,  the  girl  declared  that  she  felt  the 
spirit  like  a  mouse  upon  her  back,  and  was  required  to  hold  her  hands  out  of  bed. 
From  that  time,  though  the  spirit  was  very  solemnly  required  to  manifest  its  exist- 
ence by  appearance,  by  impression  on  the  hand  or  body  of  any  present,  by  scratch- 
es, knocks,  or  any  other  agency,  no  evidence  of  any  preternatural  power  was  ex- 

"  The  spirit  was  then  very  seriously  advertised  that  the  person  to  whom  the 
promise  was  made  of  striking  the  coffin,  was  then  about  to  visit  the  vault,  and  that 
the  performance  of  the  promise  was  then  claimed.  The  company  at  one  o'clock 
went  into  the  church,  and  the  gentleman  to  whom  the  promise  was  made,  went 
with  another  into  the  vault.  The  spirit  was  solemnly  required  to  perform  its  prom- 
ise, but  nothing  more  than  silence  ensued  :  the  person  supposed  to  be  accused  by 
the  spirit,  then  went  down  with  several  others,  but  no  effect  was  perceived.  Up- 
on their  return  they  examined  the  girl,  but  could  draw  no  confession  from  her. 
Between  two  and  three  she  desired  and  was  permitted  to  go  home  with  her  father. 

"  It  is,  therefore,  the  opinion  of  the  whole  assembly,  that  the  child  has  some  art 
of  making  or  counterfeiting  a  particular  noise,  and  that  there  is  no  agency  of  any 
higher  cause." 

'  The  Critical  Review,  in  which  Mallet  himself  sometimes  wrote,  characterised 
this  pamphlet  as  "  the  crude  efforts  of  envy,  petulance,  and  self-conceit."  There 
being  thus  three  epithets,  we  the  three  authours  had  a  humourous  contention  how 
each  should  be  appropriated. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  321 

abuse  this   tragedy  ;  for  bad  as  it  is,   how  vain  should  '763. 
either  of  us  be  to  write  one  not  near  so  good."     John-  ^tat# 
son.     "   Why  no,  Sir  ;  this  is  not  just  reasoning.     You   54. 
maif   abuse   a   tragedy,   though   you   cannot  write  one. 
You   may  scold  a  carpenter  who   has  made  you  a  bad 
table,  though  you  cannot  make  a  table.     It  is  not  your 
trade  to  make  tables." 

When  1  talked  to  him  of  the  paternal  estate  to  which 
I  was  heir,  he  said,  "  Sir,  let  me  tell  you,  that  to  be  a 
Scotch  landlord,  where  you  have  a  number  of  families 
dependent  upon  you,  and  attached  to  you,  is,  perhaps, 
as  hig;h  a  situation  as  humanity  can  arrive  at.  A  mer- 
chant  upon  the  'Change  of  London,  with  a  hundred 
thousand  pounds,  is  nothing  ;  an  English  Duke,  with  an 
immense  fortune,  is  nothing  :  he  has  no  tenants  who 
consider  themselves  as  under  his  patriarchal  care,  and 
who  will  follow  him   to  the  field  upon  an  emergency." 

His  notion  of  the  dignity  of  a  Scotch  landlord  had 
been  formed  upon  what  he  had  heard  of  the  Highland 
Chiefs  ;  for  it  is  long  since  a  lowland  landlord  has  been 
so  curtailed  in  his  feudal  authority,  that  he  has  little 
more  influence  over  his  tenants  than  an  English  land- 
lord ;  and  of  late  years  most  of  the  Highland  Chiefs 
have  destroyed,  by  means  too  well  known,  the  princely 
power  which  they  once  enjoyed. 

He  proceeded  :  "  Your  going  abroad,  Sir,  and  break- 
ing off  idle  habits,  may  be  of  great  importance  to  you. 
I  would  2:0  where  there  are  courts  and  learned  men. 
There  is  a  good  deal  of  Spain  that  has  not  been  peram- 
bulated. 1  would  have  you  go  thither.  A  man  of  in- 
feriour  talents  to  yours  may  furnish  us  with  useful 
observations  upon  that  country."  His  supposing  me, 
at  that  period  of  life,  capable  of  writing  an  account  of 
my  travels  that  would  deserve  to  be  read,  elated  me 
not  a  little. 

I  appeal  to  every  impartial  reader  whether  this  faith- 
ful detail  of  his  frankness,  complacency,  and  kindness 
to  a  young  man,  a  stranger  and  a  Scotchman,  does  not 
refute  the  unjust  opinion  of  the  harshness  of  his  gener- 
al demeanour.  His  occasional  reproofs  of  folly,  impu- 
dence, or  impiety,   and  even   the  sudden  sallies  of  his 

VOL.  I.  41 

322  1HE    LIFE    OF 

?7G3.  constitutional  irritability  of  temper,  which  have  been 
iEt-T  PreservTed  for  tne  poignancy  of  their  wit,  have  produced 
54,  "  that  opinion  among  those  who  have  not  considered  that 
such  instances,  though  collected  by  Mrs.  Piozzi  into  a 
small  volume,  and  read  over  in  a  few  hours,  were,  in 
fact,  scattered  through  a  long  series  of  years  :  years,  in 
which  his  time  was  chiefly  spent  in  instructing  and  de- 
lighting mankind  by  his  writings  and  conversation,  in 
acts  of  piety  to  God,  and  good-will  to  men. 

I  complained  to  him  that  I  had  not  yet  acquired 
much  knowledge,  and  asked  his  advice  as  to  my  stud- 
ies. He  said,  "  Don't  talk  of  study  now.  I  will  give 
you  a  plan  ;  but  it  will  require  some  time  to  consider 
of  it."  "  It  is  very  good  in  you  (I  replied,)  to  allow 
me  to  be  with  you  thus.  Had  it  been  foretold  to  me 
some  years  ago  that  I  should  pass  an  evening  with  the 
authour  of  the  Rambler,  how  should  I  have  exulted  !" 
What  I  then  expressed,  was  sincerely  from  the  heart. 
He  was  satisfied  that  it  was,  and  cordially  answered, 
'*  Sir,  I  am  glad  we  have  met.  I  hope  we  shall  pass 
many  evenings  and  mornings  too,  together."  We  fin- 
ished a  couple  of  bottles  of  port,  and  sat  till  between 
one  and  two  in  the  morning. 

He  wrote  this  year  in  the  Critical  Review  the  ac- 
count of  "  Telemachus,  a  Mask,"  by  the  Reverend 
George  Graham,  of  Eton  College.  The  subject  of  this 
beautiful  poem  was  particularly  interesting  to  Johnson, 
who  had  much  experience  of  "  the  conflict  of  opposite 
principles,"  which  he  describes  as  "  The  contention 
between  pleasure  and  virtue,  a  struggle  which  will  al- 
ways be  continued  while  the  present  system  of  nature 
shall  subsist  ;  nor  can  history  or  poetry  exhibit  more 
than  pleasure  triumphing  over  virtue,  and  virtue  subju- 
gating pleasure." 

As  Dr.  Oliver  Goldsmith  will  frequently  appear  in 
this  narrative,  I  shall  endeavour  to  make  my  readers  in 
some  degree  acquainted  with  his  singular  character. 
He  was  a  native  of  Ireland,  and  a  contemporary  with 
Mr.  Burke,  at  Trinity  College,  Dublin,  but  did  not  then 
give  much  promise  of  future  celebrity.1     He,  however, 

1  [Goldsmith  got  a  premium  at  a  Christmas  examination  in  Trinity  College, 
Dublin,  which  I  have  seen.     K] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  323 

observed  to  Mr.  Malone,  that  "  though  he  made  do  i?^- 
great  figure  in  mathematicks,  which  was  a  study  in  ^tat> 
much  repute  there,  lie  could  turn  an  Ode  of  Horace  54, 
into  English  better  than  any  of  them."  He  afterwards 
studied  physick  at  Edinburgh,  and  upon  the  Continent ; 
and  I  have  been  informed,  was  enabled  to  pursue  his 
travels  on  foot,  partly  by  demanding  at  Universities  to 
enter  the  lists  as  a  disputant,  by  which,  according  to  the 
custom  of  many  of  them,  he  was  entitled  to  the  premi- 
um of  a  crown,  when  luckily  for  him  his  challenge  was 
not  accepted  ;  so  that,  as  I  once  observed  to  Dr.  John- 
son, he  disputed  his  passage  through  Europe.  He  then 
came  to  England,  and  was  employed  successively  in  the 
capacities  of  an  usher  to  an  academy,  a  corrector  of  the 
jnvss,  a  reviewer,  and  a  writer  for  a  news-paper.  He 
had  sagacity  enough  to  cultivate  assiduously  the  ac- 
quaintance of  Johnson,  and  his  faculties  were  gradually 
enlarged  by  the  contemplation  of  such  a  model.  To 
me  and  many  others  it  appeared  that  he  studiously 
copied  the  manner  of  Johnson,  though,  indeed,  upon  a 
smaller  scale. 

At  this  time  I  think  he  had  published  nothing  with 
his  name,  though  it  was  pretty  generally  known  that 
one  Dr.  Goldsmith  was  the  authour  of  "  An  Enquiry 
into  the  present  state  of  polite  Learning  in  Europe," 
and  of  "  The  Citizen  of  the  World,"  a  series  of  letters 
supposed  to  be  written  from  London  by  a  Chinese. z 
No  man  had  the  art  of  displaying  with  more  advantage 
as  a  writer,  whatever  literary  acquisitions  he  made.  " Ni- 
hil quod  tetigit  non  ornavit."3  His  mind  resembled  a 
fertile,  but  thin  soil.  There  was  a  quick,  but  not  a 
strong  vegetation,  of  whatever  chanced  to  be  thrown 
upon  it.     No  deep  root  could  be  struck.     The  oak  of 

[A  premium  obtained  at  the  Christmas  examination,  is  generally  more  honoura- 
ble than  any  other,  because  it  ascertains  the  person  who  receives  it  to  be  the  first 
in  literary  merit.  At  the  other  examinations,  the  person  thus  distinguished  may 
be  only  the  second  in  merit  ;  he  who  has  previously  obtained  the  same  honorary 
reward,  sometimes  receiving  a  written  certificate  that  he  was  the  best  answerer,  it 
being  a  rule  that  not  more  than  one  premium  should  be  adjudged  to  the  same  pcr- 
on  in  one  year.     See  p.  249.     M.] 

2  [He  had  also  published  in  1759,  "  The  Bee,  being  Essays  on  the  most  inter- 
esting subjects."     M.] 

e  his  Epitaph  in  Westminster  Abbey,  written  by  Dr.  Johnson. 

324  THE    LIFE    OF 

1/63.  the  forest  did  not  grow  there  ;  but  the  elegant  shrub- 
Mvt  keiT  anc*  the  fragrant  parterre  appeared  in  gay  succes- 
54.  '  sion.     It  has  been   generally  circulated   and  believed 
that  he  was  a  mere  fool  in  conversation  ;*  but,  in  truth, 
this  has  been  greatly  exaggerated.     He  had,  no  doubt, 
a  more  than  common  share  of  that  hurry  of  ideas  which 
we  often  find  in  his  countrymen,  and  which  sometimes 
produces  a   laughable  confusion   in   expressing  them. 
He  was  very  much  what   the   French   call  un  etourdi, 
and  from  vanity  and  an  eager  desire  of  being  conspicu- 
ous wherever  he  was,   he  frequently  talked  carelessly 
-without  knowledge  of  the  subject,  or  even   without 
thought.     His  person  was  short,  his  countenance  coarse 
and  vulgar,  his  deportment  that  of  a  scholar  awkwardly 
affecting  the  easy  gentleman.     Those  who  were  in  any 
way  distinguished,  excited  envy  in  him  to  so  ridiculous 
an  excess,  that  the  instances  of  it  are  hardlv  credible. 
When  accompanying  two  beautiful  young  ladies5  with 
their  mother  on  a  tour  in   France,  he   was  seriously- 
angry  that  more  attention   was   paid   to  them  than   to 
him  ;  and  once  at  the  exhibition   of  the  Fantoccini  in 
London,  when  those  who  sat  next  him  observed  with 
what  dexterity  a  puppet  was  made  to  toss  a  pike,   he- 
could  not  bear  that  it  should  have  such  praise,  and  ex- 
claimed with  some  warmth,  "  Pshaw  !  1  can  do  it  bet- 
ter myself."6 

He,  1  am  afraid,   had  no  settled  system  of  any  sort, 

4  In  allusion  to  this,  Mr.  Horace  Walpole,  who  admired  his  writings,  said  he  was 
"  an  inspired  ideot ;"  and  Garrick  described  him  as  one 

" for  shortness  call'd  Noll, 

"  Who  wrote  like  an  angel,  and  talk'd  like  poor  Poll." 
Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  mentioned  to  me  that  he  frequently  heard  Goldsmith  talk 
warmly  of  the  pleasure  of  being  liked,  and  observe  how  hard  it  would  be  if  lite- 
rary excellence  should  preclude  a  man  from  that  satisfaction,  which  he  perceived 
it  often  did,  from  the  envy  which  attended  it  ;  and  therefore  Sir  Joshua  was  con- 
vinced that  he  was  intentionally  more  absurd,  in  order  to  lessen  himself  in  social 
intercourse,  trusting  that  his  character  would  be  sufficiently  supported  by  his  work. 
If  it  indeed  was  his  intention  to  appear  absurd  in  company,  he  was  often  very  suc- 
cessful. But  with  due  deference  to  Sir  Joshua's  ingenuity,  I  think  the  conjecture 
too  refined. 

'  Miss  Hornecks,  one  of  whom  is  now  married  to  Henry  Bunbury,  Esq.  and 
the  other  to  Colonel  Gwyn. 

6  He  went  home  with  Mr.  Burke  to  supper  ;  and  broke  his  shin  by  attempting 
to  exhibit  to  the  company  how  much  better  he  could  jump  over  a  stick  than  the 

DR.    JOHNSON.  32J 

so  that  his  conduct  must  not  be  strictly  scrutinized ;  1763. 
but  his  affections   were  social  and  generous,  and  when  ^tat> 
he  had  money  he  gave  it  away  very  liberally.     His  de-    54. 
sire  of  imaginary   consequence  predominated  over  his 
attention  to  truth.     When  he  began  to  rise  into  notice, 
he  said  he  had  a  brother  who  was  Dean  of  Durham,' 
a  fiction  so  easily  detected,  that  it  is  wonderful  how  he 
should  have  been  so  inconsiderate  as  to  hazard  it.     He 
boasted  to  me  at  this  time  of  the  power  of  his  pen  in 
commanding  money,  which  I  believe  was  true  in  a  cer- 
tain degree,  though  in  the  instance  he  gave  he  was  by 
no  means  correct.     He   told   me  that   he  had  sold  a 
novel  for  four  hundred  pounds.     This  was  his   "  Vicar 
of  Wakefield."     But  Johnson  informed  me,  that  he  had 
made  the  bargain   for  Goldsmith,  and   the  price   was 
sixty  pounds.     "  And,  Sir,  (said  he,)  a  sufficient  price 
too,  when  it  was  sold  ;  for  then  the  fame  of  Goldsmith 
had  not  been  elevated,   as  it  afterwards  was,  by  his 
1  Traveller  ;'  and  the  bookseller  had  such  faint  hopes  of 
profit  by  his  bargain,  that   he  kept  the  manuscript  by 
him  a  long  time,  and  did  not  publish  it  till  after  the 
'  Traveller'  had  appeared.     Then,  to  be  sure,  it  was  ac- 
cidentally worth  more  money." 

Mrs.  Piozzi8  and  Sir  John  Hawkins9  have  strange- 
ly mis-stated  the  history  of  Goldsmith's  situation  and 
Johnson's  friendly  interference,  when  this  novel  was 
sold.  1  shall  give  it  authentically  from  Johnson's  own 
exact  narration  : 

"  1  received  one  morning  a  message  from  poor  Gold- 
smith that  he  was  in  great  distress,  and  as  it  was  not  in 
his  power  to  come  to  me,  begging  that  I  would  come 
to  him  as  soon  as  possible.  1  sent  him  a  guinea,  and 
promised  to  come  to  him  directly.  I  accordingly  went 
as  soon  as  I  was  drest,  and  found  that  his  landlady  had 
arrested  him  for  his  rent,  at  which  he  was  in  a  violent 
passion.     I  perceived  that  he  had  already  changed  my 

7  I  am  willing  to  hope  that  there  may  have  been  some  mistake  as  to  this  anec- 
dote, though  I  had  it  from  a  Dignitary  of  the  church.  Dr.  Isaac  Goldsmith,  his 
near  relation,  was  Dean  of  Cloyne,  in  1747, 

8  Anecdotes  of  Johnson,  p.  119, 
5  Life  of  Johnson,  420. 


26  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  guinea,  and  had  got  a  bottle  of  Madeira  and  a  glass  be- 
fore him.  I  put  the  cork  into  the  bottle,  desired  he 
would  be  calm,  and  began  to  talk  to  him  of  the  means 
by  which  he  might  be  extricated.  He  then  told  me 
that  he  had  a  novel  ready  for  the  press,  which  he  pro- 
duced to  me.  I  looked  into  it,  and  saw  its  merit ;  told 
the  landlady  I  should  soon  return,  and  having  gone  to 
a  bookseller,  sold  it  for  sixty  pounds.  I  brought  Gold- 
smith the  money,  and  he  discharged  his  rent,  not  with- 
out rating  his  landlady  in  a  high  tone  for  having  used 
him  so  ill."1 

My  next  meeting  with  Johnson  was  on  Friday  the  1st 
of  July,  when  he  and  I  and  Dr.  Goldsmith  supped  at 
the  Mitre.  I  was  before  this  time  pretty  well  acquaint- 
ed with  Goldsmith,  who  was  one  of  the  brightest  orna- 
ments of  the  Johnsonian  school.  Goldsmith's  respect- 
ful attachment  to  Johnson  was  then  at  its  height ;  for 
his  own  literary  reputation  had  not  yet  distinguished 
him  so  much  as  to  excite  a  vain  desire  of  competition 
with  his  great  Master.  He  had  increased  my  admira- 
tion of  the  goodness  of  Johnson's  heart,  by  incidental 
remarks  in  the  course  of  conversation,  such  as,  when  I 
mentioned  Mr.  Levet,  whom  he  entertained  under  his 
roof,  "  He  is  poor  and  honest,  which  is  recommendation 
enough  to  Johnson  ;"  and  when  I  wondered  that  he 
was  very  kind  to  a  man  of  whom  I  had  heard  a  very  bad 
character,  "  He  is  now  become  miserable,  and  that  in- 
sures the  protection  of  Johnson." 

Goldsmith  attempting  this  evening  to  maintain,  I 
suppose  from  an  affectation  of  paradox,  "  that  knowl- 

1  It  may  not  be  improper  to  annex  here  Mrs.  Piozzi's  account  of  this  trans- 
action, in  her  own  words,  as  a  specimen  of  the  extreme  inaccuracy  with  which  all 
her  anecdotes  of  Dr.  Johnson  are  related,  or  rather  discoloured  and  distorted.  "  I 
have  forgotten  the  year,  but  it  could  scarcely,  I  think,  be  later  than  1765  or  1766, 
that  he  was  called  abruptly  from  our  bouse  after  dinner,  and  returning  in  about  three 
tours,  said  he  had  been  with  an  enraged  authour,  whose  landlady  pressed  him  for 
payment  within  doors,  while  the  bailiffs  beset  him  without ;  that  he  was  drinking 
himself  drunk  with  Madeira,  to  drown  care,  and  fretting  over  a  novel,  which  when 
finished,  was  to  be  his  -whole  fortune,  but  he  could  not  get  it  done  for  distraction,  nor  could 
he  step  out  of  doors  to  offer  it  for  sale.  Mr.  Johnson,  therefore,  sent  away  the 
bottle,  and  went  to  the  bookseller,  recommending  the  performance,  and  desiring 
some  immediate  relief ;  which  when  he  brought  back  to  the  writer,  he  called  the  ivo- 
•  of  the  house  directly  to  partake  of  punch,  and  pass  their  time  in  merriment"  Anec~ 
d    es  of  Dr.  Johnson,  p.  IIP. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  327 

edge  was  not  desirable  on  its  own  account,  tor  it  often  1763. 
was  a  source  of  unhappiness."     Johnson.  "  Why,  Sir,  J£u^ 
that  knowledge  may  in  some  cases  produce   unhappi-    54. 
ness,  1  allow.    But,  upon  the  whole,  knowledge,  per  se, 
is  certainly  an  object  which  every  man  would  wish  to 
attain,  although,  perhaps,  he  may  not  take  the  trouble 
necessary  for  attaining  it." 

Dr.  John  Campbell,  the  celebrated  political  and 
biographical  writer,  being  mentioned,  Johnson  said, 
"  Campbell  is  a  man  of  much  knowledge,  and  has  a 
good  share  of  imagination.  His'  Hermippus  Redivi- 
vus'  is  very  entertaining,  as  an  account  of  the  Hermet- 
ick  philosophy,  and  as  furnishing  a  curious  history  of 
the  extravagancies  of  the  human  mind.  If  it  were 
merely  imaginary,  it  would  be  nothing  at  all.  Camp- 
bell is  not  always  rigidly  careful  of  truth  in  his  conver- 
sation ;  but  I  do  not  believe  there  is  any  thing  of  this 
carelessness  in  his  books.  Campbell  is  a  good  man,  a 
pious  man.  I  am  afraid  he  has  not  been  in  the  inside 
of  a  church  for  many  years  ;-  but  he  never  passes  a 
church  without  pulling  off  nis  hat.  This  shews  that  he 
has  good  principles.  1  used  to  go  pretty  often  to 
Campbell's  on  a  Sunday  evening  till  I  began  to  consid- 
er that  the  shoals  of  Scotchmen  who  flocked  about  him 
might  probably  say,  when  any  thing  of  mine  was  well 
done,  c  Ay,  ay,  he  has  learnt  this  of  Cawmell  \" 

He  talked  very  contemptuously  of  Churchill's  poe- 
try, observing,  that  "  it  had  a  temporary  currency,  only 
from  its  audacity  of  abuse,  and  being  filled  with  living 
names,  and  that  it  would  sink  into  oblivion."  i  ven- 
tured to  hint  that  he  wasnotquite  a  fair  judge,  as  Church- 

2  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  he  was  misinformed  as  to  this  circumstance.  I  own 
I  am  jealous  for  my  worthy  friend  Dr.  John  Campbell.  For  though  Milton  could 
without  remorse  absent  himself  from  publick  worship,  I  cannot.  On  the  contrary, 
I  have  the  same  habitual  impressions  upon  my  mind,  with  those  of  a  truly  venera- 
ble Judge,  who  said  to  Mr.  Langton,  "  Friend  Langton,  if  I  have  not  bean  at  church 
on  Sunday,  I  do  not  feel  myself  easy."  Dr.  Campbell  was  a  sincerely  religious 
man.  Lord  Macartney,  who  is  eminent  for  his  variety  of  knowledge,  and  atten- 
tion to  men  of  talents,  and  knew  him  well,  toid  me,  that  when  he  called  on  him  in 
a  morning,  he  found  him  reading  a  chapter  in  the  Greek  New  Testament,  which 
he  informed  his  Lordship  was  his  constant  practice.  The  quantity  of  Dr.  Camp- 
bell's composition  is  almost  incredible,  and  his  labours  brought  liini  large  profits. 
Dr.  Joseph  Warton told  me  that  Johnson  said  of  him.  "Fie  is  the  richest  aiuhoir 
that  ever  grazed  the  common  of  literature." 


28  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  ill  had  attacked  him  violently.  Johnson.  "Nay,  Sir,  I 
jg^  am  a  very  fair  judge.  He  did  not  attack  me  violently 
54.  '  till  lie  found  I  did  not  like  his  poetry ;  and  his  attack 
on  me  shall  not  prevent  me  from  continuing  to  say  what 
I  think  of  him,  from  an  apprehension  that  it  may  be  as- 
cribed to  resentment.  No,  Sir,  I  called  the  fellow  a 
blockhead  at  first,  and  I  will  call  him  a  blockhead  still. 
However,  1  will  acknowledge  that  I  have  a  better  opin- 
ion of  him  now,  than  1  once  had  ;  for  he  has  shewn 
more  fertility  than  I  expected.  To  be  sure,  he  is  a  tree 
that  cannot  produce  good  fruit  :  he  only  bears  crabs. 
But,  Sir,  a  tree  that  produces  a  great  many  crabs  is  bet- 
ter than  a  tree  which  produces  only  a  few." 

In  this  depreciation  of  Churchill's  poetry  I  could  not 
agree  with  him.  It  is  very  true  that  the  greatest  part 
of  it  is  upon  the  topicks  of  the  day,  on  which  account, 
as  it  brought  him  great  fame  and  profit  at  the  time,  it 
must  proportionably  slide  out  of  the  publick  attention 
as  other  occasional  objects  succeed.  But  Churchill 
had  extraordinary  vigour  both  of  thought  and  expres- 
sion. His  portraits  of  the  players  will  ever  be  valua- 
ble to  the  true  lovers  of  the  drama  ;  and  his  strong  ca- 
ricatures of  several  eminent  men  of  his  age,  will  not  be 
forgotten  by  the  curious.  Let  me  add,  that  there  is  in 
his  works  many  passages  which  are  of  a  general  nature  ; 
and  his  "  Prophecy  of  Famine"  is  a  poem  of  no  ordina- 
ry merit.  It  is,  indeed,  falsely  injurious  to  Scotland  ; 
but  therefore  maybe  allowed  a  greater  share  of  invention. 
Bonnell  Thornton  had  just  published  a  burlesque 
"  Ode  on  St.  Cecilia's  day,"  adapted  to  the  ancient 
British  musick,  viz.  the  salt-box,  the  jews-harp,  the  mar- 
row-bones and  cleaver,  the  hum-strum  or  hurdy-gurdy, 
&c.  Johnson  praised  its  humour,  and  seemed  much 
diverted  with  it.     He  repeated  the  following  passage  ; 

"  In  strains  more  exalted  the  salt-box  shall  join, 
"And  clattering  and  battering  and  clapping  combine  ; 
"  With  a  rap  and  a  tap  while  the  hollow  side  sounds, 
"  Up  and  down  leaps  the  flap,  and  with  rattling  re- 
bounds. J 

1  [In  1769  I  set  for  Smart  and  Newbery,  Thornton's  burlesque  Ode,  on  St.  Ce- 
riiia's  day.    It  was  performed  at  Ranelagh  in  masks,  to  a  very  crowded  audience, 

DR.    JOHNSON.  329 

I  mentioned  the  periodical  paper  called  "The  Con-  1763. 
noisseur."      He   said  it  wanted  matter. — No  doubt  it  *j£^ 
had  not  the  deep  thinking-  of  Johnson's  writings.     But   54. 
surely  it  has  just  views  of  the  surface  of  life,  and  a  very 
sprightly  manner.     His  opinion   of  The  World  was 
not  much  higher  than  of  the  Connoisseur. 

Let  me  here  apologize  for  the  imperfect  manner  in 
which  I  am  obliged  to  exhibit  Johnson's  conversation 
at  this  period.  In  the  early  part  of  my  acquaintance 
with  him,  L  was  so  wrapt  in  admiration  of  his  extraor- 
dinary colloquial  talents,  and  so  little  accustomed  to  his 
peculiar  mode  of  expression,  that  I  found  it  extremely 
difficult  to  recollect  and  record  his  conversation  with  its 
genuine  vigour  and  vivacity.  In  progress  of  time, 
when  my  mind  was,  as  it  were,  strongly  impregnated 
with  the  Johnsonian  cether,  I  could  with  much  more  fa- 
cility and  exactness,  carry  in  my  memory  and  commit 
to  paper  the  exuberant  variety  of  his  wisdom  and  wit. 

At  this  time  Miss  Williams,*  as  she  was  then  call- 
ed, though  she  did  not  reside  with  him  in  the  Temple 
under  his  roof,  but  had  lodgings  in  Bolt-court,  Fleet- 
street,  had  so  much  of  his  attention,  that  he  every  night 
drank  tea  with  her  before  he  went  home,  however  late 
it  might  be,  and  she  always  sat  up  for  him.  This,  it 
maybe  fairly  conjectured,  was  not  alone  a  proof  of  his 
regard  for  her,  but  of  his  own  unwillingness  to  go  into 
solitude,  before  that  unseasonable  hour  at  which  he 
had  habituated  himself  to  expect  the  oblivion  of  repose. 
Dr.  Goldsmith,  being  a  privileged  man,  went  with  him 
this  night,  strutting  away,  and  calling  to  me  with  an  air 
of  superiority,  like  that  of  an  esoterick  over  an  exoter- 
ick  disciple  of  a  sage  of  antiquity,  "  i  go  to  Miss  Wil- 

as  I  was  told  ;  for  I  then  resided  in  Norfolk.  Beard  sung  the  salt-box  song,  which 
was  admirably  accompanied  on  that  instrument  by  Brent,  the  Fencing  master,  and 
father  of  Miss  Brent,  the  celebrated  singer  ;  Skeggs  on  the  broomstick,  as  bassoon  ; 
and  a  remarkable  performer  on  the  Jews-harp. — "  Buzzing  twangs  the  iron  lyre." 
Cleavers  were  cast  in  bell-metal  for  this  entertainment.  All  the  performers  of  the 
old  woman's  Oratory,  employed  by  Foote,  were,  I  believe,  employed  at  Raneiagh, 
on  this  occasion.     B.] 

'  [See  p.  185.  This  lady  resided  in  Dr.  Johnson's  house  in  Gough-square  ant" 
about  175:>  to  1758  ;  and  in  that  year,  on  his  removing:  to  Grav's  Inn,  'dI1  ar,d 
into  lodgings.  At  a  subsequent  period,  she  again  became  an  inmate  w:  JJect-  ■:,ee 
in  Johnson's-court.     M.]  observe,  that 

AOL.   I. 

330  THE    LIFE    OF 

'763.  Hams."     I  confess,  I  then  envied  him  this  mighty  priv- 
Mtzt.  'lege>  °*   which   he   seemed   so  proud  ;  but  it  was  not 
54.    long  before  1  obtained  the  same  mark  of  distinction. 

On  Tuesday  the  5th  of  July,  I  again  visited  Johnson. 
He  told  me  he  had  looked  into  the  poems  of  a  pretty 
voluminous  writer,  Mr.  (now  Dr.)  John  Ogilvie,  one 
of  the  Presbyterian  ministers  of  Scotland,  which  had 
lately  come  out,  but  could  find  no  thinking  in  them. 
Boswell.  "  Is  there  not  imagination  in  them,  Sir  ?" 
Johnson.  "  Why,  Sir,  there  is  in  them  what  zws  im- 
agination, but  it  is  no  more  imagination  in  him,  than 
sound  is  sound  in  the  echo.  And  his  diction  too  is 
not  his  own.  We  have  long  ago  seen  white-robed  in- 
nocence, and  flower-bespangled  meads." 

Talking  of  London,  he  observed,  "  Sir,  if  you  wish 
to  have  a  just  notion  of  the  magnitude  of  this  city,  you 
must  not  be  satisfied  with  seeing  its  great  streets  and 
squares,  but  must  survey  the  innumerable  little  lanes 
and  courts.  It  is  not  in  the  showy  evolutions  of  build- 
ings, but  in  the  multiplicity  of  human  habitations 
which  are  crowded  together,  that  the  wonderful  immen- 
sity of  London  consists." — I  have  often  amused  my- 
self with  thinking  how  different  a  place  London  is  to 
different  people.  They,  whose  narrow  minds  are  con- 
tracted to  the  consideration  of  some  one  particular  pur- 
suit, view  it  only  through  that  medium.  A  politician 
thinks  of  it  merely  as  the  seat  of  government  in  its  dif- 
ferent departments  ;  a  grazier,  as  a  vast  market  for  cat- 
tle ;  a  mercantile  man,  as  a  place  where  a  prodigious 
deal  of  business  is  done  upon  'Change  ;  a  dramatick 
enthusiast,  as  the  grand  scene  of  theatrical  entertain- 
ments ;  a  man  of  pleasure,  as  an  assemblage  of  tav- 
erns, and  the  great  emporium  for  ladies  of  easy  virtue. 
But  the  intellectual  man  is  struck  with  it,  as  compre- 
hending the  whole  of  human  life  in  all  its  variety,  the 
contemplation  of  which  is  inexhaustible. 

On  Wednesday,  July  6,  he  was  engaged  to  sup  with 

-^  at    my  lodgings  in   Downing-street,  Westminster. 

m  the  preceding  night  my  landlord  having  behav- 

rudely  to   me   and  some  company  who  were 

3  [in  1769 1^  resolved  not  to  remain  another  night  in 

cilia's  day.     It  was  h 

DR.    JOHNSON.  331 

his  house.  1  was  exceedingly  uneasy  at  the  awkward  i/fr*. 
appearance  1  supposed  I  should  make  to  Johnson  and  jjTt^ 
the  other  gentlemen  whom  1  had  invited,  not  being  54, 
able  to  receive  them  at  home,  and  being  obliged  to  or- 
der supper  at  the  Mitre.  1  went  to  Johnson  in  the 
morning,  and  talked  of  it  as  of  a  serious  distress.  He 
laughed,  and  said,  "  Consider,  Sir,  how  insignificant 
this  will  appear  a  twelvemonth  hence." — Were  this 
consideration  to  be  applied  to  most  of  the  little  vexa- 
tious incidents  of  life,  by  which  our  quiet  is  too  often 
disturbed,  it  would  prevent  many  painful  sensations. 
1  have  tried  it  frequently  with  good  effect.  "  There  is 
nothing  (continued  he)  in  this  mighty  misfortune  ; 
nay,  we  shall  be  better  at  the.  Mitre."  1  told  him  that 
1  had  been  at  Sir  John  Fielding's  office,  complaining  of 
my  landlord,  and  had  been  informed,  that  though  1  had 
taken  my  lodgings  for  a  year,  I  might,  upon  proof  of 
his  bad  behaviour,  quit  them  when  1  pleased,  without 
being  under  an  obligation  to  pay  rent  for  any  longer 
time  than  while  1  possessed  them.  The  fertility  of 
Johnson's  mind  could  shew  itself  even  upon  so  small  a 
matter  as  this.  "  Why,  Sir,  (said  he,)  I  suppose  this 
must  be  the  law,  since  vou  have  been  told  so  in  Bow- 
street.  But,  if  your  landlord  could  hold  you  to  your 
bargain,  and  the  lodgings  should  be  yours  for  a  year, 
you  may  certainly  use  them  as  you  think  fit.  So,  Sir, 
you  may  quarter  two  life-guard  men  upon  him  ;  or  you 
may  send  the  greatest  scoundrel  you  can  find  into  your 
apartments  ;  or  you  may  say  that  you  want  to  make 
some  experiments  in  natural  philosophy,  and  may  burn 
a  large  quantity  of  assafeetida  in  his  house." 

1  had  as  mv  quests  this  evening  at  the  Mitre  tavern, 
Dr.  Johnson,  Dr.  Goldsmith,  Mr.  Thomas  Davies,  Mr. 
Eccles,  an  Irish  gentleman,  for  whose  agreeable  com- 
pany 1  was  obliged  to  Mr.  Davies,  and  the  Reverend 
Mr.  John  Ogilvie,5  who  was  desirous  of  being  in  com- 

*  The  Northern  bard  mentioned  page  330.  When  I  asked  Dr.  Johnson's  permis- 
sion to  introduce  him,  he  obligingly  agreed  ;  adding,  however,  with  a  sly  pleasant- 
ry, "  but  be  must  give  us  none  of  his  poetry."  It  is  remarkable  that  Johnson  and 
Churchill,  however  much  they  differed  in  other  points,  agreed  on  this  subject.  See 
Churchill's  "  Journey."  It  is,  however,  but  justice  to  Dr.  Ogilvie  to  observe,  that 
his  "  Dav  of  Judgment,"  has  no  inconsiderable  share  of  merit. 

332  THE    LIFE    OJt 

1763.  pany  with  my  illustrious  friend,  while  I,  in  my  turn, 
jE^  was  proud  to  have  the  honour  of  shewing  one   of  my 
54.*  countrymen  upon  what  easy  terms  Johnson  permitted 
me  to  live  with  him. 

Goldsmith,  as  usual,  endeavoured,  with  too  much 
eagerness,  to  shine,  and  disputed  very  warmly  with 
Johnson  against  the  well  known  maxim  of  the  British 
constitution,  "  the  King  can  do  no  wrong ;"  affirming, 
that  "  what  was  morally  false  could  not  be  politically 
true  ;  and  as  the  King  might,  in  the  exercise  of  his  regal 
power,  command  and  cause  the  doing  of  what  was 
wrong,  it  certainly  might  be  said,  in  sense  and  in  rea- 
son, that  he  could  do  wrong."  Johnson.  "  Sir,  you 
are  to  consider,  that  in  our  constitution,  according  to 
its  true  principles,  the  King  is  the  head,  he  is  supreme  ; 
he  is  above  every  thing,  and  there  is  no  power  by  which 
he  can  be  tried.  Therefore,  it  is,  Sir,  that  we  hold  the 
King  can  do  no  wrong  ;  that  whatever  may  happen  to 
be  wrong  in  government  may  not  be  above  our  reach, 
by  being  ascribed  to  Majesty.  Redress  is  always  to  be 
had  against  oppression,  by  punishing  the  immediate 
agents.  The  King,  though  he  should  command,  can- 
not force  a  Judge  to  condemn  a  man  unjustly  ;  there- 
fore it  is  the  Judge  whom  we  prosecute  and  punish. 
Political  institutions  are  formed  upon  the  consideration 
of  what  will  most  frequently  tend  to  the  good  of  the 
whole,  although  now  and  then  exceptions  may  occur. 
Thus  it  is  better  in  general  that  a  nation  should  have  a 
supreme  legislative  power,  although  it  may  at  times  be 
abused.  And  then,  Sir,  there  is  this  consideration, 
that  if  the  abuse  be  enormous,  Nature  will  rise  up,  and 
claiming  her  original  rights,  overturn  a  corrupt  political 
system "  I  mark  this  animated  sentence  with  peculiar 
pleasure,  as  a  noble  instance  of  that  truly  dignified  spirit 
of  freedom  which  ever  glowed  in  his  heart,  though  he 
was  charged  with  slavish  tenets  by  superficial  observ- 
ers ;  because  he  was  at  all  times  indignant  against  that 
false  patriotism,  that  pretended  love  of  freedom,  that 
unrulv  restlessness  which  is  inconsistent  with  the  sta* 
ble  authority  of  any  good  government. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  333 

This  generous   sentiment,    which   he  uttered   with  J763. 
;at  fervour,  struck  me  exceedingly,  and  stirred  my  iEtat> 


blood  to  that  pitch  of  fancied  resistance,  the  possibility    54. 
of  which  I  am  glad  to  keep  in  mind,  but   to  which  I 
trust  1  never  shall  be  forced. 

"  Great  abilities  (said  he)  are  not  requisite  for  an 
Historian  ;  for  in  historical  composition,  all  the  greatest 
powers  < >f  the  human  mind  are  quiescent.  He  has  facts 
ready  to  his  hand  ;  so  there  is  no  exercise  of  invention. 
Imagination  is  not  required  in  any  high  degree  ;  only 
about  as  much  as  is  used  in  the  lower  kinds  of  poetry. 
Some  penetration,  accuracy,  and  colouring,  will  fit  a  man 
for  the  task,  if  he  can  give  the  application  which  is 

"  Bayle's  Dictionary  is  a  very  useful  work  for  those 
to  consult  who  love  the  biographical  part  of  literature, 
which  is  what  I  love  most." 

Talking  of  the  eminent  writers  in  Queen  Anne's 
reign,  he  observed,  "  1  think  Dr.  Arbuthnot  the  first 
man  among  them.  He  was  the  most  universal  genius, 
being  an  excellent  physician,  a  man  of  deep  learning, 
and  a  man  of  much  humour.  Mr.  Addison  was,  to  be 
sure,  a  great  man  ;  his  learning  was  not  profound  ;  but 
his  morality,  his  humour,  and  his  elegance  of  writing, 
set  him  very  high." 

Air.  Ogilvie  was  unlucky  enough  to  choose  for  the 
topick  of  his  conversation  the  praises  of  his  native 
country.  He  began  with  saying,  that  there  was  very 
rich  land  around  Edinburgh.  Goldsmith,  who  had 
studied  physick  there,  contradicted  this,  very  untruly, 
with  a  sneering  laugh.  Disconcerted  a  little  by  this, 
Mr.  Ogilvie  then  took  new  ground,  where,  1  suppose, 
he  thought  himself  perfectly  safe  ;  for  he  observed,  that 
Scotland  had  a  great  many  noble  wild  prospects.  John- 
son. "  1  believe,  Sir,  you  have  a  great  many.  Nor- 
way, too,  has  noble  wild  prospects ;  and  Lapland  is  re- 
markable for  prodigious  noble  wild  prospects.  But, 
Sir,  let  me  tell  you,  the  noblest  prospect  which  a 
Scotchman  ever  sees,  is  the  high  road  that  leads  him  to 
England  !"  This  unexpected  and  pointed  sally  pro- 
duced a  roar  of  applause.     After  all,  however,  those 

334  IHE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  who  admire  the  rude  grandeur  of  Nature,  cannot  deny 
it  to  Caledonia. 

On  Saturday,  July  9,  I  found  Johnson  surrounded 
with  a  numerous  levee,  but  have  not  preserved  any 
part  of  his  conversation.  On  the  14th  we  had  another 
evening  by  ourselves  at  the  Mitre.  It  happening  to  be 
a  very  rainy  night,  I  made  some  common  place  obser- 
vations on  the  relaxation  of  nerves  and  depression  of 
spirits  which  such  weather  occasioned  ;6  adding,  how- 
ever, that  it  was  good  for  the  vegetable  creation.  John- 
son, who,  as  we  have  already  seen,  denied  that  the 
temperature  of  the  air  had  any  influence  on  the  human 
frame,  answered,  with  a  smile  of  ridicule,  "  Why,  yes, 
Sir,  it  is  good  for  vegetables,  and  for  the  animals  who 
eat  those  vegetables,  and  for  the  animals  who  eat  those 
animals."  This  observation  of  his  aptly  enough  intro- 
duced a  good  supper  ;  and  I  soon  forgot,  in  Johnson's 
company,  the  influence  of  a  moist  atmosphere. 

Feeling  myself  now  quite  at  ease  as  his  companion, 
though  I  had  all  possible  reverence  for  him,  1  expressed 
a  regret  that  I  could  not  be  so  easy  with  my  Hither, 
though  he  was  not  much  older  than  Johnson,  and  cer- 
tainly however  respectable  had  not  more  learning  and 
greater  abilities  to  depress  me.  I  asked  him  the  reason 
of  this.  Johnson.  "Why,  Sir,  I  am  a  man  of  the 
world.  I  live  in  the  world,  and  1  take,  in  some  degree, 
the  colour  of  the  world  as  it  moves  along.  Your  father 
is  a  Judge  in  a  remote  part  of  the  island,  and  all  his 
notions  are  taken  from  the  old  world.  Besides,  Sir, 
there  must  always  be  a  struggle  between  a  father  and 
son,  while  one  aims  at  power  and  the  other  at  inde- 
pendence." I  said,  I  was  afraid  my  father  would  force 
me  to  be  a  lawyer.  Johnson.  "  Sir,  you  need  not  be 
afraid  of  his  forcing  you  to  be  a  laborious  practising 
lawyer  ;  that  is  not  in  his  power.  For  as  the  proverb 
says,  '  One  man  may  lead  a  horse  to  the  water,  but 
twenty  cannot  make  him  drink/  He  may  be  displeased 
that  you  are  not  what  he  wishes  you  to  be;  but  that 
displeasure  will  not  go  far.     If  he  insists  only  on  your 

« [Johnson  would  suffer  none  of  his  friends  to  fill  Tip  chasms  in  conversation 
with  remarks  on  the  weather  ;  "  Let  us  not  talk  of  the  weather."    B/j 

DR.   JOHNSON.  33>j 

having  as  much  law  as  is  necessary  for  a  man  of  prop-  1763. 
erty,  and  then  endeavours  to  get  you  into  Parliament,  JJ^T' 
he  is  quite  in  the  right."  54. 

I  [e  enlarged  very  convincingly  upon  the  excellence  of 
rhyme  over  blank  verse  in  English  poetry.  1  mention- 
ed to  him  that  Dr.  Adam  Smith,  in  his  lectures  upon 
composition,  when  1  studied  under  him  in  the  College 
of  Glasgow,  had  maintained  the  same  opinion  strenu- 
ously, and  1  repeated  some  of  his  arguments.  Johnson. 
"  Sir,  1  was  once  in  company  with  Smith,  and  we  did  not 
take  to  each  other ;  but  had  I  known  that  he  loved 
rhyme  as  much  as  you  tell  me  he  does,  I  should  have 
hugged  him." 

Talking  of  those  who  denied  the  truth  of  Christian- 
itv,  he  said,  "  It  is  always  easy  to  be  on  the  negative 
side.  If  a  man  were  now  to  deny  that  there  is  salt  up- 
on the  table,  you  could  not  reduce  him  to  an  absurdity. 
Come,  let  us  try  this  a  little  further.  1  deny  that  Can- 
ada is  taken,  and  1  can  support  my  denial  by  pretty- 
good  arguments.  The  French  are  a  much  more  nu- 
merous people  than  we  ;  and  it  is  not  likely  that  they 
would  allow  us  to  take  it.  '  But  the  ministry  have  as- 
sured us,  in  all  the  formality  of  the  Gazette,  that  it  is 
taken.' — Very  true.  But  the  ministry  have  put  us  to 
an  enormous  expence  by  the  war  in  America,  and  it 
is  their  interest  to  persuade  us  that  we  have  got  some- 
thing for  our  money. — '  But  the  fact  is  confirmed  by 
thousands  of  men  who  were  at  the  taking  of  it/ — Ay, 
but  these  men  have  still  more  interest  in  deceiving  us. 
They  don't  want  that  you  should  think  the  French  have 
beat  them,  but  that  they  have  beat  the  French.  Now 
suppose  you  should  go  over  and  find  that  it  really  is  ta- 
ken, that  would  only  satisfy  yourself  ;  for  when  you 
come  home  we  will  not  believe  you.  We  will  say,  you 
have  been  bribed. — Vet,  Sir,  notwithstanding  all  these 
plausible  objections,  we  have  no  doubt  that  Canada  is 
really  ours.  Such  is  the  weight  of  common  testimony. 
How  much  stronger  are  the  evidences  of  the  Christian 
religion  V* 

"  Idleness  is  a  disease  which  must  be  combated  ;  but 
I  would  not  advise  a  rigid  adherence  to  a  particular  plan 

336  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  of  study.     I  myself  have  never  persisted  in  any  plan 

fcl^1  for  two  days  together.     A  man  ought  to  read  just  as  in- 

54,  '  clination  leads  him  ;  fof  what  he  reads  as  a  task  will  do 

him  little  good.     A  young  man  should  read  five  hours 

in  a  day,  and  so  may  acquire  a  great  deal  of  knowledge." 

To  a  man  of  vigorous  intellect  and  ardent  curiosity 
like  his  own,  reading  without  a  regular  plan  may  be 
beneficial  ;  though  even  such  a  man  must  submit  to 
it,  if  he  would  attain  a  full  understanding  of  anv  of  the 

To  such  a  degree  of  unrestrained  frankness  had  he 
now  accustomed  me,  that  in  the  course  of  this  evening 
1  talked  of  the  numerous  reflections  which  had  been 
thrown  out  against  him  on  account  of  his  havinsr  ac- 
cepted  a  pension  from  his  present  Majesty.  "  Why, 
Sir,  (said  he,  with  a  hearty  laugh,)  it  is  a  mighty  fool- 
ish noise  that  they  make.7  I  have  accepted  of  a  pen- 
sion as  a  reward  which  has  been  thought  due  to  mv  lit- 
erary  merit  ;  and  now  that  I  have  this  pension,  I  am  the 
same  man  in  every  respect  that  I  have  ever  been  ;  I  re- 
tain the  same  principles.  It  is  true,  that  I  cannot  now 
curse  (smiling)  the  House  of  Hanover  ;  nor  would  it  be 
decent  for  me  to  drink  King  James's  health  in  the  wine 
that  King  George  gives  me  money  to  pay  for.  But, 
Sir,  I  think  that  the  pleasure  of  cursing  the  House  of 
Hanover,  and  drinking  King  James's  health,  are  amply 
overbalanced  by  three  hundred  pounds  a  year." 

There  was  here,  most  certainly,  an  affectation  of 
more  Jacobitism  than  he  really  had  ;  and  indeed  an 
intention  of  admitting,  for  the  moment,  in  a  much 
greater  extent  than  it  really  existed,  the  charge  of  dis- 
affection imputed  to  him  by  the  world,  merely  for  the 
purpose  of  shewing  how  dexterously  he  could  repel  an 
attack,  even  though  he  were  placed  in  the  most  disad- 
vantageous position  ;  for  I  have  heard  him  declare, 
that  if  holding  up  his  right  hand  would  have  secured 
victory  at  Culloden  to  Prince  Charles's  army,  he  was 
not  sure  he  would  have  held  it  up  ;  so  little  confidence 

'  When  I  mentioned  the  same  idle  clamour  to  him  several  years  afterwards,  he 
said,  with  a  smile, "  I  wish  my  pension  were  twice  as  large,  that  they  might  make 
twice  as  much  noise." 

DR.   JOHNSON.  537 

had  he  in  the  right  claimed  by  the  house  of  Stuart,  and  '763. 
so  fearful  was  he  of  the  consequences  of  another  re vo-  ^T^ 
lution  on  the  throne  of  Great-Britain  ;  and  Mr.  Top-  54. 
ham  Beauclerk  assured  me,  he  had  heard  him  say  this 
before  he  had  his  pension.  At  another  time  he  said 
to  Mr.  Langton,  "  Nothing  has  ever  offered,  that  has 
made  it  worth  my  while  to  consider  the  question  fully." 
He,  however,  also  said  to  the  same  gentleman,  talking 
of  King  James  the  Second,  "  It  was  become  impossible 
for  him  to  reign  any  longer  in  this  country."  He  no 
doubt  had  an  early  attachment  to  the  House  of  Stuart ; 
but  his  zeal  had  cooled  as  his  reason  strengthened.  In- 
deed I  heard  him  once  say,  "  that  after  the  death  of  a 
violent  Whig,  with  whom  he  used  to  contend  with 
great  eagerness,  he  felt  his  Toryism  much  abated."8  I 
suppose  he  meant  Mr.  VV  almsley. 

Yet  there  is  no  doubt  that  at  earlier  periods  he  was 
wont  often  to  exercise  both  his  pleasantly  and  ingenu- 
ity in  talking  Jacobitism.  My  much  respected  friend, 
Dr.  Douglas,  now  Bishop  of  Salisbury,  has  favoured  me 
with  the  following  admirable  instance  from  his  Lord- 
ship's  own  recollection.  One  day  when  dining  at  old 
Mr.  Langton's,  where  Miss  Roberts,  his  niece,  was  one 
of  the  company,  Johnson,  with  his  usual  complacent 
attention  to  the  fair  sex,  took  her  by  the  hand  and  said, 
"  My  dear,  I  hope  you  are  a  Jacobite."  Old  Mr. 
Langton,  who,  though  a  high  and  steady  Tory,  was  at- 
tached to  the  present  Royal  Family,  seemed  offended, 
and  asked  Johnson,  with  great  warmth,  what  he  could 
mean  by  putting  such  a  question  to  his  niece  ?  "  Why, 
Sir,  (said  Johnson)  I  meant  no  offence  to  your  niece,  1 
meant  her  a  great  compliment.  A  Jacobite,  Sir,  be- 
lieves in  the  divine  right  of  Kings.  He  that  believes  in 
the  divine  right  of  Kings  believes  in  a  Divinity.  A 
Jacobite  believes  in  the  divine  right  of  Bishops.  He 
that  believes  in  the  divine  right  of  Bishops  believes  in 
the  divine  authority  of  the  Christian  religion.  There- 
fore, Sir,  a  Jacobite  is  neither  an  Atheist  nor  a  Deist. 

3  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  3d.  edit.  p.  420. 

vol.  i.  43 

338  HIE    LIFE    UF 

1763.  That  cannot  be  said  of  a  Whig  ;  for  Whiggism  is  a  ut~ 

JEtaT  gati°n  of  ali principle."9 

,54.  '  He  advised  me,  when  abroad,  to  be  as  much  as  I 
could  with  the  Professors  in  the  Universities,  and  with 
the  Clergy  ;  for  from  their  conversation  I  might  expect 
the  best  accounts  of  every  thing  in  whatever  country  I 
should  be,  with  the  additional  advantage  of  keeping 
my  learning  alive. 

It  will  be  observed,  that  when  giving  me  advice  as  to 
my  travels,  Dr.  Johnson  did  not  dwell  upon  cities,  and 
palaces,  and  pictures,  and  shows,  and  Arcadian  scenes. 
He  was  of  Lord  Essex's  opinion,  who  advises  his  kins- 
man Roger  Earl  of  Rutland,  "rather  to  go  an  hundred 
miles  to  speak  with  one  wise  man,  than  five  miles  to 
see  a  fair  town."1 

I  described  to  him  an  impudent  fellow  from  Scot- 
land, who  affected  to  be  a  savage,  and  railed  at  all  es- 
tablished systems.  Johnson.  "There  is  nothing  sur- 
prizing in  this,  Sir.  He  wants  to  make  himself  con- 
spicuous. He  would  tumble  in  a  hogstye,  as  long  as 
you  looked  at  him,  and  called  to  him  to  come  out. 
But  let  him  alone,  never  mind  him,  and  he'll  soon  give 
it  over." 

I  added  that  the  same  person  maintained  that  there 
was  no  distinction  between  virtue  and  vice.  Johnson. 
"  Why,  Sir,  if  the  fellow  does  not  think  as  he  speaks, 
he  is  lying  ;  and  I  see  not  what  honour  he  can  propose 
to  himself  from  having  the  character  of  a  lvar.     But  if 

.  ... 

he  does  really  think  that  there  is  no  distinction  between 
virtue  and  vice,  why,  Sir,  when  he  leaves  our  houses 
let  us  count  our  spoons." 

Sir  David  Dalrymple,  now  one  of  the  Judges  of  Scot- 
land by  the  title  of  Lord  Hailes,  had  contributed  much 
to  increase  my  high  opinion  of  Johnson,  on  account  of 
his  writings,  long   before  I  attained  to  a  personal  ac- 

9  He  used  to  tell,  with  great  humour,  from  my  relation  to  him,  the  following 
little  story  of  my  early  years,  which  was  literally  true  :  "  Boswell,  in  the  year  1 745, 
was  a  fine  boy,  wore  a  white  cockade,  and  prayed  for  King  James,  till  one  of  his 
uncles  (General  Cochran)  gave  him  a  shilling  on  condition  that  he  would  pray  for 
King  George,  which  he  accordingly  did.  So  you  see  (says  Boswell)  that  Whigs  if 
all  ages  are  made  the  same  ■way." 

1  Letter  to  Rutland  on  Travel,  16mo.  1596. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  339 

quaintance  with  him  ;  I,  in  return,  had  informed  .John- 1763. 
son  of  Sir  David's  eminent  character  for  learning  and  ^ut! 
religion  ;  and  Johnson   was   so  much  pleased,  that  at    54. 
one  of  our  evening  meetings,  he  gave  him  for  his  toast. 
I  at  this  time  kept  up  a  very  frequent  correspondence 
with  Sir  David ;  and   I   read  to   Dr.  Johnson   to-night 
the  following  passage  from  the  letter  which  I  had  last 
received  from  him  : 

"  It  gives  me  pleasure  to  think  that  tyou  have  obtain- 
ed the  friendship  of  Mr.  Samuel  Johnson.  He  is  one. 
of  the  best  moral  writers  which  England  has  produced. 
At  the  same  time,  1  envy  you  the  free  and  undisguised 
converse  with  such  a  man.  May  I  beg  you  to  present 
my  best  respects  to  him,  and  to  assure  him  of  the  ven- 
eration which  I  entertain  for  the  authour  of  the  Ram- 
bler and  of  Rasselas  !  Let  me  recommend  this  last  work 
to  you  ;  with  the  Rambler  you  certainly  are  acquainted. 
In  Rasselas  you  will  see  a  tender-hearted  operator,  who 
probes  the  wound  only  to  heal  it.  Swift,  on  the  con- 
trary, mangles  human  nature.  He  cuts  and  slashes,  as 
if  he  took  pleasure  in  the  operation,  like  the  tyrant  who 
said,  Ita  fieri  ut  se  sentiat  emori"  Johnson  seemed  to 
be  much  gratified  by  this  just  and  well-turned  compli- 

He  recommended  to  me  to  keep  a  journal  of  my 
life,  full  and  unreserved.  He  said  it  would  be  a  very 
good  exercise,  and  would  yield  me  great  satisfaction 
when  the  particulars  were  faded  from  my  remembrance. 
1  was  uncommonly  fortunate  in  having  had  a  previous 
coincidence  of  opinion  with  him  upon  this  subject,  for 
1  had  kept  such  a  journal  for  some  time  ;  and  it  was 
no  small  pleasure  to  me  to  have  this  to  tell  him,  and  to 
receive  his  approbation.  He  counselled  me  to  keep  it 
private,  and  said  I  might  surely  have  a  friend  who 
would  burn  it  in  case  of  my  death.  From  this  habit  I 
have  been  enabled  to  give  the  world  so  many  anec- 
dotes, which  would  otherwise  have  been  lost  to  pos- 
terity. I  mentioned  that  1  was  afraid  I  put  into  my 
journal  too  many  little  incidents.  Johnson.  "  There 
is  nothing,  Sir,  too  little  for  so  little  a  creature  as  man. 
It  is  by  studying  little  things  that  we  attain  the  great 

340  THE    LIFE    OF 

*763.  art  of  having  as  little  misery  and  as  much  happiness  as 

&ut.  possible." 

54.  Next  morning  Mr.  Dempster  happened  to  call  on 
me,  and  was  so  much  struck  even  with  the  imperfect 
account  which  I  gave  him  of  Dr.  Johnson's  conversa- 
tion, that  to  his  honour  be  it  recorded,  when  I  com- 
plained that  drinking  port  and  sitting  up  late  with  him, 
affected  my  nerves  for  some  time  after,  he  said,  "  One 
had  better  be  palsied  at  eighteen  than  not  keep  compa- 
ny with  such  a  man." 

.  On  Tuesday  July  18,  I  found  tall  Sir  Thomas  Rob- 
inson sitting  with  Johnson.  Sir  Thomas  said,  that  the 
King  of  Prussia  valued  himself  upon  three  things  ; — > 
upon  being  a  hero,  a  musician,  and  an  authour.  John- 
son. "  Pretty  well,  Sir,  for  one  man.  As  to  his  being 
an  authour,  I  have  not  looked  at  his  poetry  ;  but  his 
prose  is  poor  stuff  He  writes  just  as  you  may  suppose 
Voltaire's  footboy  to  do,  who  has  been  his  amanuensis. 
He  has  such  parts  as  the  valet  might  have,  and  about 
as  much  of  the  colouring  of  the  style  as  might  be  got 
by  transcribing  his  works."  When  I  was  at  Ferney,  I 
repeated  this  to  Voltaire,  in  order  to  reconcile  him 
somewhat  to  Johnson,  whom  he,  in  affecting  the  En- 
glish mode  of  expression,  had  previously  characterised 
as  "  a  superstitious  dog  ;"  but  after  hearing  such  a  crit- 
icism on  Frederick  the  Great,  with  whom  he  was  then 
on  bad  terms,  he  exclaimed,  "  An  honest  fellow  !" 

But  I  think  the  criticism  much  too  severe  ;  for  the 
cl  Memoirs  of  the  House  of  Brandenburgh"  are  written 
as  well  as  many  works  of  that  kind.  His  poetry,  for 
the  style  of  which  he  himself  makes  a  frank  apology, 
"  Jargonnant  un  Frangois  barbare"  though  fraught 
with  pernicious  ravings  of  infidelity,  has,  in  many 
places,  great  animation,  and  in  some  a  pathetick  ten- 

Upon  this  contemptuous  animadversion  on  the  King 
of  Prussia,  I  observed  to  Johnson,  "  It  would  seem 
then,  Sir,  that  much  less  parts  are  necessary  to  make  a 
King,  than  to  make  an  Authour  :  for  the  King  of 
Prussia  is  confessedly  the  greatest  King  now  in  Europe, 
yet  you  think  he  makes  a  very  poor  figure  as  an  Au- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  341 

Air.  Levet  this  day  shewed  me  Dr.  Johnson's  library,  1763. 
which  was  contained  in  two  garrets  over  his  Chambers,  ^at. 
where  Lintot,  son  of  the  celebrated  bookseller  of  that  54. 
name,  had  formerly  his  warehouse.  J  found  a  number 
of  good  books,  but  very  dusty  and  in  great  confusion. 
The  floor  was  strewed  with  manuscript  leaves,  in  John- 
son's own  hand-writing,  which  1  beheld  with  a  degree 
of  veneration,  supposing  they  perhaps  might  contain 
portions  of  the  Rambler,  or  of  Rasselas.  1  observed  an 
apparatus  for  chymical  experiments,  of  which  Johnson 
was  all  his  life  very  fond.  The  place  seemed  to  be 
very  favourable  for  retirement  and  meditation.  John- 
son told  me,  that  he  went  up  thither  without  men- 
tioning it  to  his  servant  when  he  wanted  to  study,  se- 
cure from  interruption  ;  for  he  would  not  allow  his  ser- 
vant to  say  he  was  not  at  home  when  he  really  was. 
:'  A  servant's  strict  regard  for  truth,  (said  he)  must  be 
weakened  by  such  a  practice.  A  philosopher  may 
know  that  it  is  merely  a  form  of  denial  ;  but  few  ser- 
vants are  such  nice  distinguishes.  If  1  accustom  a 
servant  to  tell  a  lie  for  me,  have  I  not  reason  to  appre- 
hend that  he  will  tell  many  lies  for  himself?''  1  am 
however,  satisfied  that  every  servant,  of  any  degree  of 
intelligence,  understands  saying  his  master  is  not  at 
home,  not  at  all  as  the  affirmation  of  a  fact,  but  as  cus- 
tomarv  words,  intimating'  that  his  master  wishes  not  to 
be  seen  ;  so  that  there  can  be  no  bad  effect  from  it. 

Mr.  Temple,  now  vicar  of  St.  Gluvias,  Cornwall,  who 
had  been  my  intimate  friend  for  many  years,  had  at  this 
time  chambers  in  Farrar's  buildings,  at  the  bottom  of 
Inner  Temple-lane,  which  he  kindly  lent  me  upon  my 
quitting  my  lodgings,  he  being  to  return  to  Trinity 
Hall,  Cambridge.  I  found  them  particularly  conven- 
ient for  me,  as  they  were  so  near  Dr.  Johnson's. 

On  Wednesday,  July  20,  Dr.  Johnson,  Mr.  Demp- 
ster, and  my  uncle  Dr.  Boswell,  who  happened  to  be 
now  in  London,  supped  with  me  at  these  Chambers. 
Johnson.  "  Pitv  is  not  natural  to  man.  Children  are 
always  cruel.  Savages  are  always  cruel.  Pity  is  ac- 
quired and  improved  by  the  cultivation  of  reason.  We 
may  have  uneasy  sensations  from  seeing  a  creature  in 

342  THE    LIFE    OP 

1763.  distress,  without  pity ;  for  we  have  not  pity  unless  we 
SaT  w*sn  t0  reneve  them.  When  I  am  on  my  way  to  dine 
54.  with  a  friend,  and  finding  it  late,  have  bid  the  coach- 
man make  haste,  if  I  happen  to  attend  when  he  whips 
his  horses,  I  may  feel  unpleasantly  that  the  animals  are 
put  to  pain,  but  I  do  not  wish  him  to  desist.  No,  Sir,  I 
wish  him  to  drive  on." 

Mr.  Alexander  Donaldson,  bookseller  of  Edinburgh, 
had  for  some  time  opened  a  shop  in  London,  and  sold 
his  cheap  editions  of  the  most  popular  English  books, 
in  defiance  of  the  supposed  common-law  right  of  Lit- 
erary Property.  Johnson,  though  he  concurred  in  the 
opinion  which  was  afterwards  sanctioned  by  a  judge- 
ment of  the  House  of  Lords,  that  there  was  no  such 
right,  was  at  this  time  very  angry  that  the  Booksellers 
of  London,  for  whom  he  uniformly  professed  much  re- 
gard, should  suffer  from  an  invasion  of  what  they  had 
ever  considered  to  be  secure ;  and  he  was  loud  and  vi- 
olent against  Mr.  Donaldson.  "  He  is  a  fellow  who 
takes  advantage  of  the  law  to  injure  his  brethren  ;  for 
notwithstanding  that  the  statute  secures  only  fourteen 
years  of  exclusive  right,  it  has  always  been  understood 
by  the  trade,  that  he,  who  buys  the  copy-right  of  a  book 
from  the  authour,  obtains  a  perpetual  property ;  and 
upon  that  belief,  numberless  bargains  are  made  to 
transfer  that  property  after  the  expiration  of  the  statu- 
tory term.  Now  Donaldson,  I  say,  takes  advantage 
here,  of  people  who  have  really  an  equitable  title  from 
usage  ;  and  if  we  consider  how  few  of  the  books,  of 
which  they  buy  the  property,  succeed  so  well  as  to 
bring  profit,  we  should  be  of  opinion  that  the  term  of 
fourteen  years  is  too  short ;  it  should  be  sixty  years." 
Dempster.  "  Donaldson,  Sir,  is  anxious  for  the  en- 
couragement of  literature.  He  reduces  the  price  of 
books,  so  that  poor  students  may  buy  them."  John- 
son, (laughing)  "  Well,  Sir,  allowing  that  to  be  his  mo- 
tive, he  is  no  better  than  Robin  Hood,  who  robbed  the 
rich  in  order  to  give  to  the  poor." 

It  is  remarkable,  that  when  the  great  question  con- 
cerning Literary  Property  came  to  be  ultimately  tried 
before  the  supreme  tribunal  of  this  country,  in  conse- 

DR.    JOHNSON.  343 

quence  of  the  very  spirited  exertions  of  Mr.  Donaldson,  i?G3. 
Dr.   Johnson    was    zealous  against  a   perpetuity  ;   but  ^T^ 
he  thought  that  the  term  of  the  exclusive  right  of  au-    54. 
thours  should  be  considerably  enlarged.     He  was  then 
for  granting  a  hundred  vears. 

CO  J 

The  conversation  now  turned  upon  Mr.  David 
Hume's  style.  Johnson.  "  Why,  Sir,  his  style  is  not 
English  ;  the  structure  of  his  sentences  is  French. 
Now  the  French  structure  and  the  English  structure 
may,  in  the  nature  of  things,  be  equally  good.  But  if 
you  allow  that  the  English  language  is  established,  he 
is  wrong.  My  name  might  originally  have  been  Nich- 
olson, as  well  as  Johnson  ;  but  were  you  to  call  me 
Nicholson  now,  you  would  call  me  very  absurdly." 

Rousseau's  treatise  on  the  inequality  of  mankind  was 
at  this  time  a  fashionable  topick.  It  gave  rise  to  an 
observation  by  Mr.  Dempster,  that  the  advantages  of 
fortune  and  rank  were  nothing  to  a  wise  man,  who 
ought  to  value  only  merit.  Johnson.  "  If  man  were 
a  savage,  living  in  the  woods  by  himself,  this  might  be 
true  ;  but  in  civilized  society  we  all  depend  upon  each 
other,  and  our  happiness  is  very  much  owing  to  the 
good  opinion  of  mankind.  Now,  Sir,  in  civilized  so- 
ciety, external  advantages  make  us  more  respected.  A 
man  with  a  good  coat  upon  his  back  meets  with  a  bet- 
ter reception  than  he  who  has  a  bad  one.  Sir,  you 
may  analyse  this,  and  say  what  is  there  in  it  1  But  that 
will  avail  you  nothing,  for  it  is  a  part  of  a  general  sys- 
tem. Pound  St.  Paul's  church  into  atoms,  and  consider 
any  single  atom ;  it  is,  to  be  sure,  good  for  nothing  : 
but,  put  all  these  atoms  together,  and  you  have  St. 
Paul's  church.  So  it  is  with  human  felicity,  which  is 
made  up  of  many  ingredients,  each  of  which  may  be 
shewn  to  be  very  insignificant.  In  civilized  society, 
personal  merit  will  not  serve  you  so  much  as  money 
will.  Sir,  you  may  make  the  experiment.  Go  into 
the  street,  and  give  one  man  a  lecture  on  morality,  and 
another  a  shilling,  and  see  which  will  respect  you  most. 
If  you  wish  only  to  support  nature,  Sir  William  Petty 
fixes  your  allowance  at  three  pounds  a  year  ;  but  as 
times  are  much  altered,  let  us  call  it  six  pounds.     This 

344  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  sum  will  fill  your  belly,  shelter  you  from  the  weather, 
JjJJ^and  even  get  you  a  strong  lasting  coat,  supposing  it  to 
54.  '  be  made  of  good  bull's  hide.  Now,  Sir,  all  beyond 
this  is  artificial,  and  is  desired  in  order  to  obtain  a  great- 
er degree  of  respect  from  our  fellow-creatures.  And, 
Sir,  if  six  hundred  pounds  a  year  procure  a  man  more 
consequence,  and,  of  course,  more  happiness  than  six 
pounds  a  year,  the  same  proportion  will  hold  as  to  six 
thousand,  and  so  on,  as  far  as  opulence  can  be  carried. 
Perhaps  he  who  has  a  large  fortune  may  not  be  so  happy 
as  he  who  has  a  small  one  :  but  that  must  proceed  from 
other  causes  than  from  his  having  the  large  fortune  : 
for,  cceteris  paribus,  he  who  is  rich  in  a  civilized  so- 
ciety, must  be  happier  than  he  who  is  poor ;  as  riches, 
if  properly  used,  (and  it  is  a  man's  own  fault  if  they  are 
not,)  must  be  productive  of  the  highest  advantages. 
Money,  to  be  sure,  of  itself  is  of  no  use  ;  for  its  only 
use  is  to  part  with  it.  Rousseau,  and  all  those  who 
deal  in  paradoxes,  are  led  away  by  a  childish  desire  ot 
novelty.1  When  I  was  a  boy,  I  used  always  to  choose 
the  wrong  side  of  a  debate,  because  most  ingenious 
things,  that  is  to  say,  most  new  things,  could  be  said 
upon  it.  Sir,  there  is  nothing  for  which  you  may  not 
muster  up  more  plausible  arguments,  than  those  which 
are  urged  against  wealth  and  other  external  advanta- 
ges. Why,  now,  there  is  stealing;  why  should  it  be 
thought  a  crime  \  When  we  consider  by  what  unjust 
methods  property  has  been  often  acquired,  and  that 
what  was  unjustly  got  it  must  be  unjust  to  keep,  where 
is  the  harm  in  one  man's  taking  the  property  of  another 
from  him  I  Besides,  Sir,  when  we  consider  the  bad  use 
that  many  people  make  of  their  property,  and  how 
much  better  use  the  thief  may  make  of  it,  it  may  be 
defended  as  a  very  allowable  practice.  Yet,  Sir,  the 
experience  of  mankind  has  discovered  stealing  to  be  so 
very  bad  a  thing,  that  they  make  no  scruple  to  hang  a 
man  for  it.     When  I  was  running  about  this  town  a 

1  [Johnson  told  Dr.  Burney  that  Goldsmith  said,  when  he  first  began  to  write,  he 
determined  to  commit  to  paper  nothing  but  what  was  new  ;  but  he  afterwards 
found  that  what  was  new  was  generally  false,  and  from  that  time  was  no  longer  so- 
licitous about  novelty.     B.] 

DR.    JOHNSON.  34,5 

very  poor  fellow,  I  was  a  great  arguer  for  the  advanta- 1763. 
ges  of  poverty  ;  but  I  was,  at  the  same  time,  very  sorry  jT^ 
to  be  poor.     Sir,  all  the  arguments  which   are  brought    54. 
to  represent  poverty  as  no  evil,  shew  it  to  be  evidently 
a  great  evil.     You  never  find  people  labouring  to  con- 
vince you  that  you  may  live  very  happily  upon  a  plen- 
tiful fortune. — So  you   hear  people  talking  how  misera- 
ble a  King  must  be ;  and  yet  they  all  wish  to  be  in  his 

It  was  suggested  that  Kings  must  be  unhappy,  be- 
cause they  are  deprived  of  the  greatest  of  all  satisfac- 
tions, easy  and  unreserved  society.  Johnson.  "That 
is  an  ill-founded  notion.  Being  a  King  does  not  ex- 
clude a  man  from  such  society.  Great  Kings  have  al- 
ways been  social.  The  King  of  Prussia,  the  only  great 
King  at  present,  is  very  social.  Charles  the  Second, 
the  last  King  of  England  who  was  a  man  of  parts,  was 
social ;  and  our  Henrys  and  Edwards  were  all  social." 

Mr.  Dempster  having  endeavoured  to  maintain  that 
intrinsick  merit  ought  to  make  the  only  distinction 
amongst  mankind.  Johnson.  "  Why,  Sir,  mankind 
have  found  that  this  cannot  be.  How  shall  we  deter- 
mine the  proportion  of  intrinsick  merit  I  Were  that  to 
be  the  onlv  distinction  amonsrst  mankind,  we  should 
soon  quarrel  about  the  degrees  of  it.  Were  all  distinc- 
tions abolished,  the  strongest  would  not  long  acquiesce, 
but  would  endeavour  to  obtain  a  superiority  by  their 
bodily  strength.  But,  Sir,  as  subordination  is  very  ne- 
cessary for  society,  and  contentions  for  superiority  very 
dangerous,  mankind,  that  is  to  say,  all  civilized  nations, 
have  settled  it  upon  a  plain  invariable  principle.  A 
man  is  born  to  hereditary  rank  ;  or  his  being  appointed 
to  certain  offices,  gives  him  a  certain  rank.  Subordina- 
tion tends  greatly  to  human  happiness.  Were  we  all 
upon  an  equality,  we  should  have  no  other  enjoyment 
than  mere  animal  pleasure." 

I  said,  I  considered  distinction  or  rank  to  be  of  so 
much  importance  in  civilized  society,  that  if  I  were 
asked  on  the  same  day  to  dine  with  the  first  Duke  in 
England,  and  with  the  first  man  in  Britain  for  genius, 
I  should  hesitate  which  to  prefer.     Johnson.    "  To  be 

vol.  t  =  1  | 

JW  I  HE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  sure,  Sir,  if  you  were  to  dine  only  once,  and  it  were 
iEtaT  never  to  De  known  where  you  dined,  you  would  choose 
54.  rather  to  dine  with  the  first  man  for  genius  ;  but  to 
gain  most  respect,  you  should  dine  with  the  first  Duke 
in  England.  For  nine  people  in  ten  that  you  meet 
with,  would  have  a  higher  opinion  of  you  for  having 
dined  with  a  Duke  ;  and  the  great  genius  himself 
would  receive  you  better,  because  you  had  been  with 
the  great  Duke." 

He  took  care  to  guard  himself  against  any  possible 
suspicion  that  his  settled  principles  of  reverence  for 
rank  and  respect  for  wealth  were  at  all  owing  to  mean 
or  interested  motives;  for  he  asserted  his  own  inde- 
pendence as  a  literary  man.  "  No  man  (said  he)  who 
ever  lived  by  literature,  has  lived  more  independently 
than  1  have  done."  He  said  he  had  taken  longer  time 
than  he  needed  to  have  done  in  composing  his  Diction- 
ary. He  received  our  compliments  upon  that  great 
work  with  complacency,  and  told  us  that  the  Academy 
della  Crusca  could  scarcely  believe  that  it  was  done  by 
one  man. 

Next  morning  T  found  him  alone,  and  have  preserved 
the  following  fragments  of  his  conversation.  Of  a  gen- 
tleman who  was  mentioned,  he  said,  "  1  have  not  met 
with  any  man  for  a  long  time  who  has  given  me  such 
general  displeasure.  He  is  totally  unfixed  in  his  prin- 
ciples, and  wants  to  puzzle  other  people."  I  said  his 
principles  had  been  poisoned  by  a  noted  infidel  writer, 
but  that  he  was,  nevertheless,  a  benevolent  good  man. 
Johnson.  "  We  can  have  no  dependance  upon  that 
instinctive,  that  constitutional  goodness  which  is  not 
founded  upon  principle.  I  grant  you  that  such  a  man 
may  be  a  very  amiable  member  of  society.  1  can  con- 
ceive him  placed  in  such  a  situation  that  he  is  not  much 
tempted  to  deviate  from  what  is  right  ;  and  as  every 
man  prefers  virtue,  when  there  is  not  some  strong  in- 
citement  to  transgress  its  precepts,  1  can  conceive  him 
doing  nothing  wrong.  Hut  if  such  a  man  stood  in 
need  of  money,  I  should  not  like  to  trust  him  ;  and  I 
should  certainly  not  trust  him  with  young  ladies,  for 
there  there  is  always  temptation.     Hume,  and  other 

DR.    JOHNSON.  347 

sceptical  innovators,  are  vain  men,  and  will  gratify  17<J;3- 
themselves  at  any  expence.  Truth  will  not  afford  suf-  J,.^ 
fieient  food  to  their  vanity  ;  so  they  have  betaken  54. 
themselves  to  errour.  Truth,  Sir,  is  a  cow  which  will 
yield  such  people  no  more  milk,  and  so  they  arc  gone 
to  milk  the  hull.  If  1  could  have  allowed  myself  to 
gratify  my  vanity  at  the  expence  of  truth,  what  fame 
might  1  have  acquired.  Every  thing  which  Hume  has 
advanced  against  Christianity  had  passed  through  my 
mind  long  before  he  wrote.  Always  remember  this, 
that  after  a  system  is  well  settled  upon  positive  evi- 
dence, a  few  partial  objections  ought  not  to  shake  it. 
The  human  mind  is  so  limited,  that  it  cannot  take  in 
all  the  parts  of  a  subject,  so  that  there  may  be  objec- 
tions raised  against  any  thing.  There  are  objections 
against  a  plenum,  and  objections  against  a  vacuum  ; 
yet  one  of  them  must  certainly  be  true." 

1  mentioned  Hume's  argument  against  the  belief  of 
miracles,  that  it  is  more  probable  that  the  witnesses  to 
the  truth  of  them  are  mistaken,  or  speak  falsely,  than 
that  the  miracles  should  be  true.  Johnson.  "  Why, 
Sir,  the  great  difficulty  of  proving  miracles  should  make 
us  verv  cautious  in  believing  them.  But  let  us  con- 
sider ;  although  God  has  made  Nature  to  operate  by 
certain  fixed  laws,  yet  it  is  not  unreasonable  to  think 
that  he  may  suspend  those  laws,  in  order  to  establish  a 
system  highly  advantageous  to  mankind.  Now  the 
Christian  Religion  is  a  most  beneficial  system,  as  it 
gives  us  light  and  certainty  where  we  were  before  in 
darkness  and  doubt.  The  miracles  which  prove  it  are 
attested  by  men  who  had  no  interest  in  deceiving  us  ; 
but  who,  on  the  contrary,  were  told  that  they  should 
suffer  persecution,  and  did  actually  lay  down  their 
lives  in  confirmation  of  the  truth  of  the  facts  which 
they  asserted.  Indeed,  for  some  centuries  the  heathens 
did  not  pretend  to  deny  the  miracles  ;  but  said  they 
were  performed  by  the  aid  of  evil  spirits.  This  is  a 
circumstance  of  great  weight.  Then,  Sir,  when  we 
take  the  proofs  derived  from  prophecies  which  have 
been  so  exactly  fulfilled,  we  have  most  satisfactory  ev- 
idence.    Supposing  a  miracle  possible,  as  to  which,  in 

348  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  my  opinion,  there  can  be  no  doubt,  we  have  a  strong 
JEtaT  evidence  f°r  tne  miracles  in  support  of  Christianity,  as 
54. '  the  nature  of  the  thing  admits." 

At  night,  Mr.  Johnson  and  I  supped  in  a  private 
room  at  the  Turk's  Head  coffee-house,  in  the  Strand. 
"  I  encourage  this  house  (said  he  ;)  for  the  mistress  of  it 
is  a  good  civil  woman,  and  has  not  much  business." 

"  Sir,  I  love  the  acquaintance  of  young  people  ;  be- 
cause, in  the  first  place,  I  don't  like  to  think  myself 
growing  old.  In  the  next  place,  young  acquaintances 
must  last  longest,  if  they  do  last ;  and  then,  Sir,  young 
men  have  more  virtue  than  old  men  ;  they  have  more 
generous  sentiments  in  every  respect.  I  love  the 
young  dogs  of  this  age,  they  have  more  wit  and  humour 
and  knowledge  of  life  than  we  had  ;  but  then  the  dogs 
are  not  so  good  scholars.  Sir,  in  my  early  years  I  read 
very  hard.  It  is  a  sad  reflection,  but  a  true  one,  that  I 
knew  almost  as  much  at  eighteen  as  1  do  now.  My 
judgement,  to  be  sure,  was  not  so  good  ;  but,  I  had  all 
the  facts.  I  remember  very  well,  when  1  was  at  Ox- 
ford, an  old  gentleman  said  to  me,  '  Young  man,  ply 
your  book  diligently  now,  and  acquire  a  stock  of  knowl- 
edge ;  for  when  years  come  unto  you,  you  will  find  that 
poring  upon  books  will  be  but  an  irksome  task." 

This  account  of  his  reading,  given  by  himself  in  plain 
words,  sufficiently  confirms  what  I  have  already  advanc- 
ed upon  the  disputed  question  as  to  his  application.  It 
reconciles  any  seeming  inconsistency  in  his  way  of  talk- 
ing upon  it  at  different  times  ;  and  shews  that  idleness 
and  reading  hard  were  with  him  relative  terms,  the  im- 
port of  which,  as  used  by  him,  must  be  gathered  from  a 
comparison  with  what  scholars  of  different  degrees  of 
ardour  and  assiduity  have  been  known  to  do.  And  let 
it  be  remembered,  that  he  was  now  talking  spontane- 
ously, and  expressing  his  genuine  sentiments  ;  whereas 
at  other  times  he  might  be  induced  from  his  spirit  of 
contradiction,  or  more  properly  from  his  love  of  argils 
mentative  contest,  to  speak  lightly  of  his  own  applica- 
tion to  study.  It  is  pleasing  to  consider  that  the  old 
gentleman's  gloomy  prophecy  as  to  the  irksomeness  of 
books  to  men  of  an  advanced  age,  which  is  too  often 

DR.    JOHNSON.  349 


fulfilled,  was  so  far  from  being  verified  in  Johnson,  that  *763 
his  ardour   for  literature  never  failed,   and  his  last  vvri-  ^fait 
tings  had  more  ease  and  vivacity  than  any  of  his  earlier    54 

He  mentioned  to  me  now,  for  the  first  time,  that  he 
had  been  distrest  by  melancholy,  and  for  that  reason 
had  been  obliged  to  fly  from  study  and  meditation,  to 
the  dissipating  variety  of  life.  Against  melancholy  he 
recommended  constant  occupation  of  mind,  a  great  deal 
of  exercise,  moderation  in  eating  and  drinking,  and  espe- 
cially to  shun  drinking  at  night.  He  said  melancholy 
people  were  apt  to  fly  to  intemperance  for  relief,  but 
that  it  sunk  them  much  deeper  in  misery.  He  observ- 
ed, that  labouring  men  who  work  hard,  and  live  spar- 
ingly, are  seldom  or  never  troubled  with  low  spirits. 

He  again  insisted  on  the  duty  of  maintaining  subor- 
dination of  rank.  "  Sir,  1  would  no  more  deprive  a  no- 
bleman of  his  respect,  than  of  his  money.  I  consider 
myself  as  acting  a  part  in  the  great  system  of  society, 
and  I  do  to  others  as  I  would  have  them  to  do  to  me. 
I  would  behave  to  a  nobleman  as  I  should  expect  he 
would  behave  to  me,  were  I  a  nobleman  and  he  Sam. 
Johnson.  Sir,  there  is  one  Mrs.  Macau  lay2  in  this 
town,  a  great  republican.  One  day  when  I  was  at  her 
house,  I  put  on  a  very  grave  countenance,  and  said  to 
her,  '  Madam,  I  am  now  become  a  convert  to  your  way 
of  thinking.  I  am  convinced  that  all  mankind  are  up- 
on an  equal  footing  ;  and  to  give  you  an  unquestiona- 
ble proof,  Madam,  that  I  am  in  earnest,  here  is  a  very 
sensible,  civil,  well-behaved  fellow  citizen,  your  foot- 
man ;  I  desire  that  he  may  be  allowed  to  sit  down  and 
dine  with  us/  I  thus,  Sir,  shewed  her  the  absurdity  of 
the  levelling  doctrine.  She  has  never  liked  me  since. 
Sir,  your  levellers  wish  to  level  down  as  far  as  them- 
selves  ;  but  they  cannot  bear  levelling  up  to  themselves. 
They  would  ail  have  some  people  under  them  :  why 
not  then  have  some  people  above  them  \"  I  mentioned 
a  certain  authour  who  disgusted  me  by  his  forwardness, 
and  by  shewing  no  deference  to  noblemen  into  whose 

2  This  one  Mrs.  Macaulay  was  the  same  personage  who  afterwards  made  herself 
50  much  known  as  "  the  celebrated  female  historian." 

350  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  company  he  was  admitted.  Johnson.  "  Suppose  a 
Sat  snoemaker  should  claim  an  equality  with  him,  as  he 
54.  does  with  a  Lord  :  how  he  would  stare.  *  Why,  Sir, 
do  you  stare  I  (says  the  shoemaker,)  I  do  great  service 
to  society.  Tis  true,  I  am  paid  for  doing  it ;  but  so  are 
you  Sir  :  and  I  am  sorry  to  say  it,  better  paid  than  I 
am,  for  doing  something  not  so  necessary.  For  man- 
kind could  do  better  without  your  books,  than  without 
my  shoes.'  Thus,  Sir,  there  would  be  a  perpetual 
struggle  for  precedence,  were  there  no  fixed  invariable 
rules  for  the  distinction  of  rank,  which  creates  no  jeal- 
ousy, as  it  is  allowed  to  be  accidental." 

He  said,  Dr.  Joseph  Warton  was  a  very  agreeable 
man,  and  his  "  Essay  on  the  Genius  and  Writings  of 
Pope/'  a  very  pleasing  book.  1  wondered  that  he  de- 
layed so  long  to  give  us  the  continuation  of  it.  John- 
son. "  Why,  Sir,  I  suppose  he  finds  himself  a  little  dis- 
appointed, in  not  having  been  able  to  persuade  the 
world  to  be  of  his  opinion  as  to  Pope." 

We  have  now  been  favoured  with  the  concluding 
volume,  in  which,  to  use  a  parliamentary  expression,  he 
has  explained,  so  as  not  to  appear  quite  so  adverse  to 
the  opinion  of  the  world,  concerning  Pope,  as  was  at 
first  thought ;  and  we  must  all  agree,  that  his  work  is  a 
most  valuable  accession  to  English  literature. 

A  writer  of  deserved  eminence  being  mentioned, 
Johnson  said,  "  Why,  Sir,  he  is  a  man  of  good  parts, 
but  being  originally  poor,  he  has  got  a  love  of  mean 
company  and  low  jocularity  ;  a  very  bad  thing,  Sir.  To 
laugh  is  good,  as  to  talk  is  good.  But  you  ought  no 
more  to  think  it  enough  if  you  laugh,  than  you  are  to 
think  it  enough  if  you  talk.  You  may  laugh  in  as  ma- 
ny ways  as  you  talk  ;  and  surely  every  way  of  talking 
that  is  practised  cannot  be  esteemed." 

i  spoke  of  a  Sir  James  Macdonald  as  a  young  man  of 
most  distinguished  merit,  who  united  the  highest  rep- 
utation at  Eton  and  Oxford,  with  the  patriarchal  spirit 
of  a  great  Highland  Chieftain.  1  mentioned  that  Sir 
James  had  said  to  me,  that  he  had  never  seen  Mr.  John- 
son, but  he  had  a  great  respect  for  him,  though  at  the 
same  time  it  was  mixed  with  some  degree  of  terrour. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  351 

Johnson.  "Sir,  if  he  were  to  be  acquainted  with  me,  1763. 
it  might  lessen  both."  /Etat. 

The  mention  of  this  gentleman  led  us  to  talk  of  the  54. 
Western  islands  of  Scotland,  to  visit  which  he  express- 
ed a  wish  that  then  appeared  to  mi*  a  very  romantick 
fancy,  which  1  little  thought  would  be  afterwards  real- 
ised. He  told  me,  that  his  father  had  put  Martin's  ac- 
count of  those  islands  into  his  hands  when  he  was  very 
young,  and  that  he  was  highly  pleased  with  it  ;  that  he 
was  particularly  struck  with  the  St.  Kilda  man's  notion 
that  the  high  church  of  Glasgow  had  been  hollowed 
out  of  a  rock  ;  a  circumstance  to  which  old  Air.  John- 
son had  directed  his  attention,  fie  said,  he  would  go 
to  the  Hebrides  with  me,  when  1  returned  from  my 
travels,  unless  some  very  good  companion  should  offer 
when  I  was  absent,  which  he  did  not  think  probable  ; 
adding,  "  There  are  few  people  to  whom  i  take  so  much 
to  as  to  you."  And  when  1  talked  of  my  leaving  Eng- 
land,  he  said  with  a  very  affectionate  air,  "  My  dear 
Boswell,  1  should  be  very  unhappy  at  parting,  did  J. 
think,  we  were  not  to  meet  again." — i  cannot  too  often 
remind  my  readers,  that  although  such  instances  of  his 
kindness  are  doubtless  very  flattering  to  me,  yet  1  hope 
my  recording  them  will  be  ascribed  to  a  better  motive 
than  to  vanity  ;  for  they  afford  unquestionable  evidence 
of  his  tenderness  and  complacency,  which  some,  while 
they  were  forced  to  acknowledge  his  great  powers,  have 
been  so  strenuous  to  deny. 

He  maintained  that  a  boy  at  school  was  the  happiest 
©f  human  beings.  1  supported  a  different  opinion,  from 
which  l  have  never  yet  varied,  that  a  man  is  happier  : 
and  I  enlarged  upon  the  anxiety  and  sufferings  which 
are  endured  at  school.  Johnson.- "Ah  !  Sir,  a  boy's 
being  flogged  is  not  so  severe  as  a  man's  having  the 
hiss  of  the  world  against  him.  Men  have  a  solicitude 
about  fame  ;  and  the  greater  share  they  have  of  it,  the 
more  afraid  they  are  of  losing  it."  1  silently  asked  my- 
self, "  is  it  possible  that  the  great  Samuel  Johnson 
really  entertains  any  such  apprehension,  and  is  not  con- 
fident that  his  exalted  fame  is  established  upon  a  foun- 
dation never  to  be  shaken  f" 

3.52  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.       He  this  evening  drank  a  bumper  to  Sir  David  Dal- 

^^  rymple,  "  as  a  man  of  worth,  a  scholar,  and  a  wit."     "  J 

54,    have  (said  he)  never  heard  of  him  :  except  from  you  ; 

but  let  him  know  my   opinion  of  him :  for  as  he  does 

not  shew  himself  much  in  the  world,  he  should  have 

the  praise  of  the  few  who  hear  of  him." 

On  Tuesday,  July  26",  I  found  Mr.  Johnson  alone. 
It  was  a  very  wet  day,  and  I  again  complained  of  the 
disagreeable  effects  of  such  weather.  Johnson.  "Sir, 
this  is  all  imagination,  which  physicians  encourage  ; 
for  man  lives  in  air,  as  a  fish  lives  in  water  ;  so  that  if 
the  atmosphere  press  heavy  from  above,  there  is  an 
equal  resistance  from  below.  To  be  sure,  bad  weather 
is  hard  upon  people  who  are  obliged  to  be  abroad  ;  and 
men  cannot  labour  so  well  in  the  open  air  in  bad 
weather,  as  in  good  :  but,  Sir,  a  smith  or  a  taylor,  whose 
work  is  within  doors,  will  surely  do  as  much  in 
rainy  weather,  as  in  fair.  Some  very  delicate  frames, 
indeed,  may  be  affected  by  wet  weather  ;  but  not  com- 
mon constitutions." 

We  talked  of  the  education  of  children  ;  and  I  asked 
him  what  he  thought  was  best  to  teach  them  first. 
Johnson.  "  Sir,  it  is  no  matter  what  you  teach  them 
first,  any  more  than  what  leg  you  shall  put  into  your 
breeches  first.  Sir,  you  may  stand  disputing  which  is 
best  to  put  in  first,  but  in  the  mean  time  your  breech 
is  bare.  Sir,  while  you  are  considering  which  of  two 
things  you  should  teach  your  child  first,  another  boy 
has  learnt  them  both." 

On  Thursday,  July  28,  we  again  supped  in  private  at 
the  Turk's  Head  coffee-house.  Johnson.  "  Swift  has 
a  higher  reputation  than  he  deserves.  His  excellence 
is  strong  sense;  for,  his  humour,  though  very  well,  is 
not  remarkably  good.  I  doubt  whether  the  '  Tale  of  a 
Tub'  be  his  ;  for  he  never  owned  it,  and  it  is  much  above 
his  usual  manner."3 

"  Thomson,  1  think,  had  as  much  of  the  poet  about 
him  as  most  writers.  Every  thing  appeared  to  him 
through  the  medium  of  his  favourite  pursuit.     He  could 

1  This  opinion  was  given  by  him  more  at  large  at  a  subsequent  period.     Sec 
"  Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,"  3d  edit.  p.  32. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  353 

not  have  viewed  those  two  candles  burning  but  with  a  1763 


poetical  eye/  jEtat 

"  Has  not a  great  deal  of  wit,  Sir  i      John-   54 

son.  "  i  do  not  think  so,  Sir.  He  is,  indeed,  continu- 
ally attempting  wit,  but  he  fails.  And  I  have  no  more 
pleasure  in  hearing  a  man  attempting  wit  and  failing, 
than  in  seeing  a  man  trying  to  leap  over  a  ditch  and 
tumbling  into  it." 

He  laughed  heartily  when  I  mentioned  to  him  a  say- 
ing of  his  concerning  Mr.  Thomas  Sheridan,  which 
Foote  took  a  wicked  pleasure  to  circulate.  "  Why,  Sir, 
Sherry  is  dull,  naturally  dull  ;  but  it  must  have  taken 
him  a  great  deal  of  pains  to  become  what  we  now  see 
him.  Such  an  excess  of  stupidity,  Sir,  is  not  in  Na- 
ture."— "  So  (said  he,)  I  allowed  him  all  his  own  merit." 

He  now  added,  "  Sheridan  cannot  bear  me.  1  bring 
his  declamation  to  a  point.  I  ask  him  a  plain  question, 
'  What  do  you  mean  to  teach  V  Besides,  Sir,  what  in- 
fluence can  Mr.  Sheridan  have  upon  the  language  of 
this  great  country,  by  his  narrow  exertions  ?  Sir,  it  is 
burning  a  farthing  candle  at  Dover,  to  shew  light  at 

Talking  of  a  young  man  who  was  uneasy  from  think- 
ing that  he  was  very  deficient  in  learning  and  knowl- 
edge, he  said,  "  A  man  has  no  reason  to  complain  who 
holds  a  middle  place,  and  has  many  below  him  ;  and 
perhaps  he  has  not  six  of  his  years  above  him  ; — per- 
haps not  one.  Though  he  may  not  know  any  thing  per- 
fectly, the  general  mass  of  knowledge  that  he  has  ac- 
quired is  considerable.     Time  will  do  for  him  all  that  is 


The  conversation  then  took  a  philosophical  turn. 
Johnson.  "  Human  experience,  which  is  constantly 
contradicting  theory,  is  the  great  test  of  truth.  A  sys- 
tem, built  upon  the  discoveries  of  a  great  many  minds, 
is  always  of  more  strength,  than  what  is  produced  by 
the  mere  workings  of  any  one  mind,  which,  of  itself,  can 
do  little.  There  is  not  so  poor  a  book  in  the  world  that 
would  not  be  a  prodigious  effort  were  it  wrought  out 
entirely  by  a  single  mind,  without  the  aid  of  prior  in- 
vestigators.   The  French  writers  are  superficial,  because 

vol.  1.  45 

354  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  they  are  not  scholars,  and  so  proceed  upon  the  mere 

Sat"  Povver  °f  tne'r  own  minds  ;  and  we  see  how  very  little 
54.  '  power  they  have." 

"  As  to  the  Christian  religion,  Sir,  besides  the  strong- 
evidence  which  we  have  for  it,  there  is  a  balance  in  its 
favour  from  the  number  of  great  men  who  have  been 
convinced  of  its  truth,  after  a  serious  consideration  of 
the  question.  Grotius  was  an  acute  man,  a  lawyer,  a 
man  accustomed  to  examine  evidence,  and  he  was  con- 
vinced. Grotius  was  not  a  recluse,  but  a  man  of  the 
world,  who  certainly  had  no  bias  to  the  side  of  religion. 
Sir  Isaac  Newton  set  out  an  infidel,  and  came  to  be  a 
very  firm  believer." 

He  this  evening  again  recommended  to  me  to  peram- 
bulate Spain.*  1  said  it  would  amuse  him  to  get  a  let- 
ter from  me  dated  at  Salamancha.  Johnson.  "  I  love 
the  University  of  Salamancha  ;  for  when  the  Spaniards 
were  in  doubt  as  to  the  lawfulness  of  their  conquering 
America,  the  University  of  Salamancha  gave  it  as  their 
opinion  that  it  was  not  lawful."  He  spoke  this  with 
great  emotion,  and  with  that  generous  warmth  which 
dictated  the  lines  in  his  "  London"  against  Spanish  en- 

1  expressed  my  opinion  of  my  friend  Derrick  as  but  a 
poor  writer.  Johnson.  "To  be  sure,  Sir,  he  is  :  but 
you  are  to  consider  that  his  being  a  literary  man  has 
got  for  him  all  that  he  has.  It  has  made  him  King  of 
Bath.  Sir,  he  has  nothing  to  sav  for  himself  but  that 
he  is  a  writer.  Had  he  not  been  a  writer,  he  must 
have  been  sweeping  the  crossings  in  the  streets,  and 
asking  halfpence  from  every  body  that  past." 

In  justice,  however,  to  the  memory  of  Mr.  Derrick, 
who  was  my  first  tutor  in  the  ways  of  London,  and 
shewed  me  the  town  in  all  its  variety  of  departments, 
both  literary  and  sportive,  the  particulars  of  which  Dr. 
Johnson  advised  me  to  put  in  writing,  it  is  proper  to 
mention  what  Johnson,  at  a  subsequent  period,  said  of 

•>  I  fuily  intended  to  have  followed  advice  of  such  weight ;  but  having  staid 
much  longer  both  in  Germany  and  Italy  than  I  proposed  to  do,  and  having  also 
visited  Corsica,  I  found  that  I  had  exceeded  the  time  allowed  me  by  my  father,  and 
hastened  to  France  in  my  way  homewards. 

DR.    JOHNSON.  355 

him  both  as  a  writer  and  an  editor  :  "  Sir,  I  have  often  1763. 
said,  that  if  Derrick's  letters  had  been  written  by  one  jjrj^ 
of  a  more  established  name,  they  would   have  been    54. 
thought  very  pretty  letters." s      And,  "  1  sent  Derrick 
to  Dryden's  relations  to  gather  materials  for   his  life  ; 
and  1  believe  he  got  all  that  J  myself  should  have  got."6 
Poor  Derrick  !  I  remember  him  with  kindness.     Yet 
I  cannot  withhold  from  my  readers  a  pleasant  humour- 
ous sally  which  could  not  have  hurt  him  had  he  been 
alive,  and  now  is  perfectly  harmless.     In  his  collection 
of  poems,  there  is  one  upon  entering  the  harbour  of 
Dublin,  his  native  city,  after  a  long  absence.     It  begins 
thus  : 

"  Eblana  !  much  lov'd  city  hail  ! 

"  Where  first  I  saw  the  light  of  day." 

And  after  a  solemn  reflection  on  his  being  "  num- 
bered with  forgotten  dead,"  there  is  the  following  stanza : 

"  Unless  my  lines  protract  my  fame, 

"  And  those,  who  chance  to  read  them,  cry, 

"  I  knew  him  !  Derrick  was  his  name, 
"  In  yonder  tomb  his  ashes  lie." 

which  was  thus  happily  parodied  by  Mr.  John  Home, 
to  whom  we  owe  the  beautiful  and  pathetick  tragedy  of 
"  Douglas  :" 

"  Unless  my  deeds  protract  my  fame, 

"  And  he  xvho  passes  sad///  sings, 
"  I  knew  him  !  Derrick  was  his  name, 

"  On  yonder  tree  his  carcase  swings  /" 

I  doubt  much  whether  the  amiable  and  ingenious  au- 
thour  of  these  burlesque  lines  will  recollect  them  ;  for 
they  were  produced  extempore  one  evening  while  he 
and  I  were  walking  together  in  the  dining  room  at  Eg- 
lingtoune  Castle,  in  1760,  and  I  have  never  mentioned 
them  to  him  since. 

Journal  of  a  Tour  to  the  Hebrides,  2d  edit.  p.  104. 
'  Ibid.  p.  142. 

356  THE    LIFE    OF 

1763.  Johnson  said  once  to  me,  "  Sir,  I  honour  Derrick  for 
JJ^his  presence  of  mind.  One  night,  when  Floyd,7  an- 
54.  other  poor  authour,  was  wandering  about  the  streets  in 
the  night,  he  found  Derrick  fast  asleep  upon  a  bulk ; 
upon  being  suddenly  waked,  Derrick  started  up,  '  My 
dear  Floyd,  L  am  sorry  to  see  you  in  this  destitute  state  : 
will  you  go  home  with  me  to  my  lodgings  /" 

I  again  begged  his  advice  as  to  my  method  of  study 
at  Utrecht.  "  Come,  (said  he)  let  us  make  a  day  of  it. 
Let  us  go  down  to  Greenwich  and  dine,  and  talk  of  it 
there."  The  following  Saturday  was  fixed  for  this  ex- 

As  we  walked  along  the  Strand  to-night,  arm  in  arm, 
a  woman  of  the  town  accosted  us,  in  the  usual  enticing 
manner.  "  No,  no,  my  girl,  (said  Johnson)  it  won't 
do."  He,  however,  did  not  treat  her  with  harshness  ; 
and  we  talked  of  the  wretched  life  of  such  women,  and 
agreed,  that  much  more  misery  than  happiness,  upon 
the  whole,  is  produced  by  illicit  commerce  between  the 

On  Saturday,  July  30,  Dr.  Johnson  and  I  took  a 
sculler  at  the  Temple-stairs,  and  set  out  for  Greenwich. 
I  asked  him  if  he  really  thought  a  knowledge  of  the 
Greek  and  Latin  languages  an  essential  requisite  to  a 
good  education.  Johnson.  "  Most  certainly,  Sir  ;  for 
those  who  know  them  have  a  very  great  advantage  over 
those  who  do  not.  Nay,  Sir,  it  is  wonderful  what  a 
difference  learning  makes  upon  people  even  in  the  com- 
mon intercourse  of  life,  which  does  not  appear  to  be 
much  connected  with  it."  "  And  yet,  (said  1)  people 
go  through  the  world  very  well,  and  carry  on  the  busi- 
ness of  life  to  good  advantage  without  learning." 
Johnson.  "  Why,  Sir,  that  may  be  true  in  cases  where 
learning  cannot  possibly  be  of  any  use ;  for  instance, 
this  boy  rows  us  as  well  without  learning,  as  if  he  could 
sing  the  song  of  Orpheus  to  the  Argonauts,  who  were 
the  first  sailors."  He  then  called  to  the  boy,  "  What 
would  you  give,  my  lad,  to  know  about  the  Argo- 
nauts?"  "Sir   (said    the  boy),   1   would    give  what   I 

■  7  He  published  a  biographical  work,  containing  an  account  of  eminent  writer*; 
in  3  vols,  8vo, 

DR.    JOHNSON.  357 

have."     Johnson  was  much  pleased  with  his  answer,  1763. 
and  we  gave  him  a  double  fare.     Dr.  Johnson  then  jjjj^ 
turning  to  me,  "  Sir,  (said  he)  a  desire  of  knowledge  is   54. 
the  natural  feeling  of  mankind  ;  and  every  human  be- 
ing,  whose  mind   is  not  debauched,  will  be  willing  to 
give  all  that  he  has,  to  get  knowledge." 

We  landed  at  the  Old  Swan,  and  walked  to  Billings- 
gate, where  we  took  oars  and  moved  smoothly  along 
the  silver  Thames.  It  was  a  very  fine  day.  We  were 
entertained  with  the  immense  number  and  variety  of 
ships  that  were  lying  at  anchor,  and  with  the  beautiful 
country  on  each  side  of  the  river. 

I  talked  of  preaching,  and  of  the  great  success  which 
those  called  methodists8  have.  Johnson.  "Sir,  it  is 
owing  to  their  expressing  themselves  in  a  plain  and  fa- 
miliar manner,  which  is  the  only  way  to  do  good  to 
the  common  people,  and  which  clergymen  of  genius 
and  learning  ought  to  do  from  a  principle  of  duty,  when 
it  is  suited  to  their  congregations  ;  a  practice,  for  which 
they  will  be  praised  by  men  of  sense.  To  insist  against 
drunkenness  as  a  crime,  because  it  debases  reason,  the 

d  All  who  are  acquainted  with  the  history  of  religion,  (the  most  important,  surely, 
that  concerns  the  human  mind,)  know  that  the  appellation  of  Methodists  was  first 
given  to  a  society  of  students  in  the  University  of  Oxford,  who  about  the  year  1730,